Ryanair, the World’s largest international airline has presented its rescue plan for Irish tourism to the Government appointed Tourism Renewal Group in a briefing at Dublin Castle.
Instead of wasting scarce Government resources on more consultants reports, talking shops, strategy review groups or any of the other failed bureaucratic initiatives so beloved by the Irish Government and the Civil Service, Ryanair pointed to six specific measures which if implemented, would enable traffic and tourism numbers in Ireland to grow by 20% over the next two years as follows:
1. Scrap the €10 travel tax.
2. Raise an equivalent €125m by scrapping PSO subsidies (€20m p.a.); close down the useless Aviation Regulator’s office (€5m p.a.); reduce Government spending on tourism by 60% (€100m p.a.).
3. Immediately scrap the Dublin Airport Metro which will cost over €5bn, thereby saving over €250m p.a.
4. Require the Government owned DAA to reduce charges by 30% to 2007 levels.
5. Allow competing airports (Shannon and Cork) and terminals (Dublin) to incentivise low cost traffic growth instead of useless new route schemes.
Ryanair today confirmed that if the €10 travel tax is scrapped, then it will reverse its recently announced flight cuts at Dublin and Shannon airports, which will reduce traffic by at least 2 million passengers in 2009/10. Ryanair also pledged that it could and would add a further 2 million passengers at Dublin Airport if passenger charges are reduced by 30% to return them to 2007 levels.
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said:
“Irish Government policy is devastating the tourism industry. It is time the Government stopped protecting the DAA monopoly and forced it to reduce charges in the same way that many other UK and European airports are reducing charges to grow traffic. It is sad that Ryanair will reduce traffic to/from Ireland this year by almost 2 million passengers, during a year when Ryanair’s total traffic will grow by some 9 million passengers across Europe. The DAA’s high costs are killing Irish tourism.
“Secondly the Irish Aviation Regulator is useless and should be dismissed. Cathal Guiomard makes Patrick Neary look like Eliot Ness. He has rubberstamped repeated cost increases at Dublin Airport, the costs of his own office have doubled over the last 5 years and he has recently signed off on further price increases at Dublin to pay for the overblown Terminal 2 which the Government’s Appeal Panel has confirmed was “greatly oversized”. Air passengers should not be expected to pay for the waste and incompetence of the DAA monopoly or this utterly useless Regulator. In the UK, airport regulation has been found to have failed consumers and the BAA monopoly is being broken up. The failed DAA monopoly should also be broken up if we are to reverse the current collapse in Irish tourism.
“Finally, the €10 travel tax is without doubt the most stupid initiative of many stupid initiatives taken by this Government in recent months. You cannot stimulate tourism by taxing tourists. These travel taxes have already caused UK and Dutch air traffic to collapse. They will have a similar effect on Irish traffic, particularly to the regions. When these monies (and more) can be raised by sensible spending cuts such as scrapping the PSO subsidies, the wasted tourism marketing funds, getting rid of the unnecessary and unwanted Dublin Airport Metro, there is no justification for this tourist tax and we call again, even at this late stage, to scrap it. Perhaps Tourism Minister, Martin Cullen, instead of wasting money flying around Ireland in his chopper could do something useful by scrapping this tourist tax, in which case, Ryanair will reverse its recent route and traffic cuts. Ireland’s tourism industry is being devastated by these stupid Government policies which can and must be reversed if we are to turn the current traffic declines into tourism growth”.