"The European Union wants to be the champion of climate change, but the European Union has to take into account that there are outermost regions and that these outermost regions must have a complete exception for air transport", said Miguel Albuquerque.

The president of the Regional Government (PSD/CDS-PP) was speaking on the sidelines of a visit to the Casa Museu Frederico de Freitas, in Funchal, where he commented on the statements made by Michael O'Leary in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

"In addition to excessive fees, another threat to the growth of tourism in Portugal comes in the form of ETS [Emissions Trading System] fees, which unfairly target short-haul flights, with the inclusion of the outermost regions of the European Union having been recently proposed, including Madeira, as early as 2024", pointed out Michael O'Leary.

For the leader of the Irish airline Ryanair, if this measure is approved, "tourists will face higher costs when visiting Madeira, in relation to other non-European holiday destinations, which means that the island will probably lose visitors to destinations outside the European Union, such as Morocco, Turkey, and Jordan, which are exempt from paying ETS".

"I am in solidarity with him. What is happening in the European Union is a disgrace", declared Miguel Albuquerque.

The head of the Madeiran executive defended a "complete exception" in terms of environmental fees for air transport to the outermost regions of the European Union, namely Madeira, the Azores, and the Canary Islands.

"It is fundamental that air travel is not penalised, because we are jeopardising a fundamental industry for the development of these regions, the tourist industry", he said, indicating that he intends to send a letter to the president of the Government of the Canaries warning him of the situation.

"From the moment that the outermost regions are penalised, there are movements to contest the European integration policy. I think that this is not what the European Union wants", he warned.