In a statement sent to the press, the carrier appeals to the “Portuguese Government to stop wasting time with 'studies' and 'commissions' and deliver the much-needed growth in air transport and tourism to Lisbon”, as the solution.
“Ryanair calls for the urgent opening of Montijo Airport following the announcement by the Independent Technical Commission regarding the new airport in the Lisbon area. The current Lisbon airport (Portela) no longer meets the needs and Montijo must be opened urgently to provide Lisbon and Portugal with the additional connectivity and tourism/job growth necessary to stimulate the economy”, considers Ryanair.
Ryanair is also asking for the opening of Montijo to break the monopoly of ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, which holds the concession for national airports and which, according to Ryanair, is restricting access to Lisbon airport.
“ANA, which is increasing airport taxes by 17% from 2024, is harming Portugal's connectivity, tourism growth, job growth and harming low fares for Portuguese consumers and visitors. It is no longer acceptable for Portugal's citizens and visitors to be exploited by ANA's refusal to accommodate further growth or efficiencies at Lisbon Portela airport”, states Ryanair.
For the airline, the fact that ANA has no competition in Portugal means that the national airport manager can “increase prices without penalty”, similar to what is expected to happen in Lisbon.
“In Lisbon alone, passenger rates have increased by +50% since 2019, despite most European airports reducing passenger rates post-Covid to recover traffic and growth. The Portuguese Government has failed to ensure that airports, which play a vital role in the national infrastructure, are used to drive growth for the benefit of Portugal's citizens and economy, rather than enriching a French-owned airport monopoly operator,” accuses the carrier.
As a result of the increase in fees, the airline adds, Ryanair was “forced to withdraw an aircraft (an investment of $100 million) from its base in Madeira this winter”, preparing to also reduce operations in Porto and in Faro.
Therefore, the airline also says that national authorities should hand over the concession for Montijo to an ANA competitor, which “would accelerate the opening of Montijo and bring more traffic and tourism growth, as well as thousands of new jobs to Lisbon and to Portugal".
“The Portuguese Government has been idly talking for years about a second airport for Lisbon, while Montijo should have been opened years ago. We are almost in 2024 and we are still waiting for the Portuguese Government to make a decision on where to place a new airport for Lisbon. ANA, the French airport monopoly, claims that Portela is full and cannot issue any more slots. Any sensible government would ensure that the capital's airport has the capacity to grow. The Portuguese Government failed to do this, and the solution is on the other side of the bay in Montijo”, concludes Michael O’Leary, CEO of the Ryanair Group.