Key Points:

  • ANA, the Portuguese airports manager, disputes Ryanair's justification for reducing flights in Madeira, Porto, and Faro, attributing it to increased airport taxes.

  • ANA highlights that proposed average rates for 2024 are lower than those in 2019 and emphasizes the growth and potential of Madeira as a tourist destination.

  • Despite Ryanair's reduction in flights, ANA notes significant interest from other airlines in expanding connectivity in Madeira, with several new routes confirmed for summer 2024.

ANA Refutes Ryanair's Justifications for Reduced Flights

ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, the entity managing Portuguese airports, has expressed its disagreement with Ryanair's rationale for decreasing its flight operations in Madeira, Porto, and Faro. Ryanair cited updated airport taxes as the reason for this reduction. However, ANA has observed a trend of diminishing flights by Ryanair to Portuguese airports over the past three years, suggesting that the issue may not be solely related to airport taxes. In a statement issued to the news agency Lusa, ANA clarified that the average rates proposed for 2024 are, in fact, lower than the rates in 2019, countering Ryanair's claims.

The response from ANA comes after comments made by Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, who announced a reduction in the airline's operations, including the removal of one aircraft in Madeira and decreased traffic in Porto and Faro. O'Leary attributed these changes to increased airport taxes. He also acknowledged that Ryanair's base in Madeira benefits from an incentive program by ANA, describing it as a significant investment. Despite these changes, ANA maintains a positive outlook on Madeira's status as a key tourist destination in Europe, noting a 10% growth in the summer of 2023 compared to the previous year.

Growth and Expansion in Madeira's Connectivity

ANA emphasizes the ongoing development and potential of Madeira as a tourist hotspot. The airport manager credits airlines like easyJet, Wizzair, Azores Airlines, and Condor for contributing to the region's growth. Additionally, ANA points out that despite the upcoming update in airport taxes from January 2024, there is considerable interest from various airlines in continuing to develop connectivity in Madeira. This interest is exemplified by new routes confirmed for the summer of 2024 by airlines such as SATA, easyJet, Jet2, and Wizzair, connecting cities like Boston, Toronto, Geneve, Basel, Liverpool, Belfast, and Rome to Madeira.

According to a recent statement by the Airport International Council (ACI) Europe, cited by Lusa, there has been a more than 38% increase in fares charged by airlines in Europe during the summer months of the third quarter. In this context, ANA highlights that Portuguese airports are among the fastest-growing in Europe. The revenues from airport charges are crucial for financing safety, operational efficiency, and the enhancement of airport capacity and comfort.

In a related development, Ryanair’s commercial director, Jason McGuiness, met with Miguel Albuquerque, the president of Madeira's regional government. During this meeting, McGuiness expressed Ryanair's commitment to collaborating on addressing the potential impacts of their decision on Madeira's tourism and economy. However, Ryanair has made significant reductions, decreasing its Madeira base from two aircraft to one and cutting connections from 10 to seven, discontinuing routes to Marseille, Nuremberg, and Bégamo.