8 MARCH 2021


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Article from BTNews 8 MARCH 2021

O’Leary Zooms Parliament

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary was mostly on his best behaviour when he appeared before the House of Commons Transport Select Committee last Wednesday (3 March) and actually praised the British government for its vaccination programme.

He made it very clear that the United Kingdom operation was the biggest part of the airline, Europe’s largest, and that Ryanair was part of Airlines UK.  No mention that only one plane from the 450-strong fleet was on the British register.  He said that in his opinion air fares would stay very low for the rest of the year.

“We are not a great supporter of the principle of a vaccine passport in the sense that you will have some internationally accredited documents that is only issued by governments because it won’t come out quickly enough for this summer,” he said.  “We’re launching a tool on our own app so passengers can either upload a vaccination certificate or negative PCR tests.”

O’Leary noted that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had started “criminal proceedings” against Ryanair for carrying Italian and German passengers to the UK with valid pre-departure PCR test certificates written in their own language, rather than the required English, French or Spanish.  He used the word ‘bonkers’ although it was not clear if that was aimed at the CAA or Westminster.

Dee, the chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, told the committee that the rates relief would only cover losses for about 13 days for English airports, which had huge operational and security costs. “They are big costs that when you have no revenue and virtually no passengers, you simply cannot cover … that is not a sustainable position for any business,” she said.

Tim Hawkins, the chief of staff of MAG, which operates Manchester, East Midlands and Stansted airports, also gave evidence.  It is 65% owned by the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester, the balance by the Australian finance house IFM Investors.  “The sector specific support, the business rates, only gives half our liability at Manchester and Stansted and only came in November, since when we’ve been closed. It’s very hard to reconcile with the support given to other sectors.”

Aviation minister Robert Courts told the MPs that he rejects the suggestion that the taskforce is “talking shop” or “a way of pushing this into the long grass.”  “It is bringing together ministers and the sector…to ease restrictions in a sustainable and robust way,” he said.


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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Simon Grigor, Harrow

A better link, for the discussions at the 3 March meeting, than the one given at the end of the article, is https://committees.parliament.uk/event/3758

Oscar Jones, march

I can’t see the point of this committee holding a session without the main British airlines represented.

Oscar Jones, march

I can’t see the point of this committee holding a session without the main British airlines represented.