European airfares will rise this summer, says Michael O’Leary

Ryanair chief takes aim at Government over Dublin Airport passenger cap

Michael O’Leary has said he expects European airfares to rise this summer because of reduced capacity following a recall of Airbus engines and an increase in charges at Dublin Airport.

However, the Ryanair chief executive told RTÉ Radio 1′s Today with Claire Byrne programme on Wednesday that he expects the airline to offer competitive prices due to falling fuel costs.

He lashed out at the Government over DAA’s planning application to increase the passenger cap at the airport from 32 million to 40 million passengers annually.

The Coalition should ignore the current cap, he argued, given the process is likely to take more than two years because like “any planning application”, it will be subject to appeal and High Court litigation from people who want to disrupt it.


In the meantime, he said DAA had opened a second runway, adding capacity to the airport without allowing airlines to grow their presence there.

In that context, he said it is “inevitable that airfares will rise” if airlines cannot grow capacity because of environmental taxes and DAA plans to increase airport charges by 45 per cent over the next three years.

Looking ahead to the summer, Mr O’Leary said he expects European airfares to rise because there will be fewer flights due to a recall of Airbus engines last year. However, airfare growth at Ryanair is likely to be “flattish” compared with last summer because the airline has bought its fuel at a 10 per cent discount due to falling prices.

Mr O’Leary also staunchly defended the carrier’s decision to buy houses near Dublin Airport and rent them to cabin crew. Ryanair has purchased about 40 homes in north Dublin over the past year, most recently 25 newly built units at Fosterstown in Swords, prompting criticism from some local representatives, including Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.

However, Mr O’Leary said cabin crew were among the lower paid staff within the Ryanair workforce and typically have fewer accommodation options near the airport than other workers.

“The difficulty we’ve had for the last number of years is we’ve been renting accommodation in Citywest and around the outskirts of Dublin, all of which are fine,” he said. “No issue with the property. But they’re not accessible to Dublin Airport and there’s no public transport to get from Dublin Airport either early in the morning or late in the evening.”

He said it was not necessarily an issue of affordability for his staff. “They have no difficulty paying the rent. The difficulty is the availability of accommodation close to Dublin Airport. If you’re renting in Citywest and you need to report here to Dublin Airport at five o’clock in the morning for an early shift, there’s no transport.”

Mr O’Leary said the number of homes purchased is small relative to the number of new homes built last year. He added there will 40 homes available to rent elsewhere this summer because Ryanair staff will not be renting those properties.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times