Airline accused of blackmail
The news revealed yesterday by Diário dos Azores about Ryanair’s intention to abandon its operation in Ponta Delgada and Terceira had a profound impact on the tourism sector and on local businessmen.
The President of the Ponta Delgada Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mário Fortuna, also expressed his concern to Diário dos Açores, explaining that “Ryanair is a private company that tries to make its operations profitable. If you have a high demand for your services, and you do, you will tend to optimize your fleet and other resources by allocating them to the most competitive routes. If we lose competitiveness, because we haven’t done enough work to promote our destination, we lose out. Is this going to happen. It is very important that we change our ways in this aspect because we spend too much time immersed in doubts and too little time doing the promotion work that needs to be done”.
For Mário Fortuna, “we have to admit, in this sense, that investment in advertising on Ryanair platforms tends to be the most profitable because it reaches many millions of potential customers. In this sense, this company has a capacity far superior to the others operating in the Azores. For every euro invested in Ryaniar platforms we get a much higher return. Indirectly, we are investing in national flag companies at an astronomical cost for national and regional taxpayers in the Azores. We must never lose efficient partners”.
As to whether the Region should give more money to Ryanair to maintain its bases in the archipelago, the business leader replies: “It’s not about giving more money but investing in our reputation through Ryanair. It is necessary to underline this aspect which is central, we are not paying to be here but investing in promotion campaigns through its services. With them, the message we have to transmit goes further”.
Azores tourism under threat
Without Ryanair and with the sale of SATA Internacional to a private company, is Azores tourism in question? Of this, we are absolutely certain. It will be a setback in the development of tourism in the Azores”.
As for the possibility of extending the Ryanair operation to other islands, in an eventual agreement for new contracts, Mário Fortuna understands that “extending the operation to other islands will always be a question of the profitability that the company needs to keep up with the competitiveness of other markets and our willingness to invest. In any case, the company will only be able to operate in liberalized airports, which means that the universe is restricted to S. Miguel and Terceira. The other potential airports – Pico, Faial and Stª Maria are excluded as they require public service obligations”.
Ryanair accused of blackmail
The Portugal News reports that the BE/Azores (left-bloc) party has accused Ryanair of “blackmail” in relation to the airline “requiring subsidies” to operate the route to the archipelago and will ask the Regional Government to reveal all contracts between entities financed with public funds.
António Lima, the BE deputy in the Azorean parliament, referred to the news at a press conference, which he said had been “confirmed by the regional secretary for Tourism, Mobility and Infrastructure, that Ryanair threatened to leave the Azores and that, therefore, negotiations are taking place with the government with a view to maintaining the routes operated by the airline”.
“Blackmail is part of Ryanair’s way of acting, either to try to prevent legitimate strikes for better working conditions or to extort subsidies from taxpayers in the regions and cities where it operates. Ryanair’s threat to stop flying to the Azores constitutes one more example of the predatory way in which this company operates”.BE deputy in the Azorean parliament, António Lima
António Lima criticised Ryanair’s way of acting, accusing the company of attempting to “extort subsidies from taxpayers in the regions and cities where it operates” and adding that the company “does not hesitate to demand subsidies” when no other airline that operates liberalised routes with the mainland have them”.
“The Regional Government has to disclose all existing contracts between entities financed with public funds and Ryanair, namely VisitAzores, and Chambers of Commerce. We will request these documents from the Regional Government”António Lima