Michael O’Leary, held a video conference call with Portuguese Infrastructure Minister Pedro Nuno Santos on 26 May.

According to a press release sent to The Portugal News: “During that call, Ryanair criticised the false claims made by Minister Santos in recent days that; Ryanair was “waging commercial war to gain market share” – (False - this is called competition). Ryanair engages in “social dumping” practices (False - Ryanair cabin crew pay is double what Portuguese nurses and teachers earn). Ryanair does “not respect workers’ rights” (False - Ryanair has negotiated CLA agreements with both its pilot and cabin crew unions). Ryanair is subsidised by Portugal to fly to Porto, Faro and the Azores (False - Ryanair receives the same discounts and tourism support that other airlines would if they opened bases and created hundreds of jobs in Porto, Faro and the Azores”.

According to Ryanair, “Santos claimed that Portugal has the right to invest in TAP. Ryanair agrees that Portugal has this “right”, but it does not believe that €3 billion of scarce Portuguese taxpayers’ funds should be diverted from investment in schools, hospitals and other much need infrastructure to subsidise a failed, high fare flag carrier airline like TAP.

“TAP has little value, as proven by the fact that the Portuguese Government acquired 45 percent from David Neeleman for just $45m. However, Ryanair condemns the Portuguese Government’s desire to subsidise TAP with €3bn of funds which should more properly be spent on Portuguese hospitals, schools and improvements in infrastructure such as Montijo Airport”.

Ryanair, during the meeting, called on Minister Santos to open Montijo Airport, where “Ryanair could deliver 5 million passengers, which would create 5,000 well paid jobs for pilots, cabin crew and airport staff in Montijo”. According to the press release: “Minister Santos had nothing to say. He is more interested in wasting taxpayers’ money subsidising TAP (which is his Government’s right), but refuses to invest a fraction of this money in Montijo, which would create more slots, more visitors and more well paid jobs in Lisbon”.

In the meantime, Ryanair claim that they have “highly paid pilots and cabin crew in Portugal, all of whom are covered by union negotiated CLA’s and enjoy excellent rosters”. The company then stated that they intend to “continue to invest in Portuguese Airports in Porto, in Lisbon, in Faro and in Ponta Delgada as well. Ryanair also during the call offered to further invest in its Labs IT teams in Lisbon and offered to discuss with Minister Santos the opportunity to open aircraft maintenance bases in Portugal, each of which would bring 300-500 more well paid engineering jobs.

“Minister Santos wasn’t interested in these infrastructure discussions, all he wants to do is subsidise TAP and criticise Ryanair despite the fact that Ryanair continues to invest in Portugal, grow visitor numbers to Portugal, and offer Portuguese citizens low air fares, something they have been denied for years by TAP”.

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said: “We had an interesting although pointless discussion with Minister Santos this morning. We condemn his false claims over recent days that Ryanair is waging a commercial war, when this is called competition. We also reject his false claims that Ryanair engages in “social dumping” when we pay our cabin crew more than double what his Government’s pay Portuguese nurses and teachers in a year. Ryanair objects to €3 billion of Portuguese taxpayers’ funds, which should be spent on Portuguese hospitals, Portuguese schools and increasing the pay of school teachers and nurses being squandered on TAP, a tiny airline which has only ever offered Portugal high fares. In Summer 2021, Ryanair will operate over 120 routes to/from Portugal. This is almost double the 70 routes offered by TAP, and unlike TAP, we are not seeking €3 billion of subsidies from the Portuguese taxpayer, which must come at the expense of spending on hospitals, schools, teachers and nurses.

“Ryanair will invest in Portugal. We will continue to bring new visitors to Portugal, and we will continue to recognise the rights of all our workers to join unions, and be represented by those unions, while at the same time paying our pilots up to €150,000 p.a and our cabin crew between €30,000 to €40,000 p.a., which is double what Minister Santos pays to Portugal’s nurses and teachers.

“We again call on Minister Santos to stop wasting taxpayers’ money on TAP, and invest in infrastructure, and his immediate priority should be the opening of Montijo Airport, where Ryanair could - within 2 years - deliver 5 million passengers and create over 5,000 new very well paid jobs in Lisbon,” concluded O’Leary.