Ireland-based airline Ryanair will within three years double the number of passengers it carries each year to and from Portugal, so overtaking TAP Air Portugal, the company's chief executive, Michael O'Leary told Lusa News Agency on Tuesday.
Ryanair currently carries 6 million passengers, but that should rise to 12 million as the airline expands services from its three bases in Portugal, he said. The company, which is known for its 'low-cost' model, on Tuesday announced the addition of six new routes to and from Lisbon from next summer.
"It is possible [for us] to overtake TAP and become the leading company in Portugal," O'Leary said.
If TAP is privatised as the government intends, he predicted, it will become "smaller" at first, and then start growing.
On the planned increase in airport fees O'Leary said this was "a problem for all airlines companies" and that "only communist regimes maintain this model" of regulated fees.
In August, airline operator ANA announced 7.56% increases in regulated fees for Lisbon airport and 1.50% for Porto airport, to take effect on 1 December. It cited costs resulting from a greater-than-expected increase in air traffic.