Ryanair is to reduce its Budapest flights on seven routes this winter season in response to the Hungarian government’s recently introduced extra profit tax, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary announced in Budapest.
The head of the Irish low-cost airline could not specify at a press conference on Tuesday on which seven routes the airline would cut flights. Later the company sent the details with the reduced frequency routes:
Amman, Bristol, Pisa, Prague, Sofia, Tel Aviv and Warsaw will see fewer flights.
On 11 August, Ryanair announced the cancellation of eight of its Budapest destinations: from October, the Irish flag carrier will no longer fly to Bordeaux, Bournemouth, Cologne, Kaunas, Krakow, Lappeenranta, Riga and Turin. The move will reduce the number of Ryanair’s Budapest routes from 53 to 45.
In a statement shared before the press conference, O’Leary repeatedly described the extra profit tax as nonsense and regretted that he could not announce the launch of new routes. Details HERE: This is why Ryanair received a huge fine from the Hungarian government. But Budapest was still better off than some other Ryanair bases, with Athens and Brussels, for example, closing for the winter.
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said:
“We deeply regret that we are not in Hungary today to announce new routes and further growth for Winter 22, as we are in many other European countries. The Hungarian Govt’s idiotic “excess profits” tax on the loss-making air transport sector (and Hungarian citizens/visitors) has done nothing but damage Hungarian tourism, connectivity, traffic, and jobs as evidenced by these severe cuts to our Budapest winter schedule, which were made in direct response to this ridiculous “excess profits” tax.
The only thing more ridiculous than the Hungarian Govt’s decision to impose an “excess profits” tax on the loss-making airline industry is the Hungarian CPA’s decision to impose a completely baseless fine, which was strangely announced by the Hungarian Justice Minister on Facebook even before Ryanair was notified. This doesn’t say much for the independence or integrity of the CPA! Ryanair had appealed this baseless fine imposed by the CPA which we will ultimately overturn before the EU Courts on the basis that EU law guarantees airlines the freedom to set prices without any interference from national Govts, and we are permitted by EU law to pass on retrospective taxes to consumers – including this idiotic “excess profits” tax.
We now call on the Hungarian Govt to stop punishing Hungarian families and abolish its idiotic “excess profits” tax on the loss-making airline sector immediately, before even more damage is done to Hungary air travel and tourism.”
Mr. O’Leary repeatedly stressed during the press conference that he believed Hungary and Budapest would become less competitive with regional cities as a result of the government’s decisions. Budapest is being made a more expensive destination, while all neighbouring countries are more concerned with attracting passengers.
The CEO also said that they were prepared for the Hungarian consumer protection authorities to reject Ryanair’s appeal against the HUF 300 million (EUR 746,873.60) fine, but are ready to take the case to the European Court of Justice. The Ryanair boss is sure he is right and will fight to prove it.
Mr O’Leary was asked if he had already sent the book Economics for Dummies to Márton Nagy, to which he gave a positive answer. He was also asked whether it would have been better if he had not gotten into a war of words with the Hungarian government because it would have given him the impression of a bully as the head of one of the world’s biggest airlines. O’Leary said it would not have been better for the world’s fifth largest airline to have remained silent when the Hungarian government was in fact hitting Hungarian passengers with the extra tax.
The Ryanair chief said that despite the cancellations and thinning, they would not be at a competitive disadvantage against their biggest domestic rival, Wizz Air, which had already made a cut in its own offering. Furthermore, he believes Ryanair is a more attractive company, if only because he considers himself to be a better-looking CEO than the head of his competitor. Staying on the humorous side, he also thanked Gergely Gulyás for “worrying” about his health when he said he had too much alcohol when he was young, in response to a journalist’s question.