BUDGET airline Ryanair wanted to pay just €1 for each passenger it brought to Shannon, it was claimed in a council meeting this week.
At the end of a five year deal on passenger charges in 2010, Ryanair announced it was to cut popular routes to Paris and reduce services to London’s Gatwick and Stansted Airports. Routes between Edinburgh, Malaga, Nantes and Lanzarote were subsequently axed.
At the time, the airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary blamed the Dublin Airport Authority for an increase in charges at Shannon Airport.
But speaking at Limerick City Council’s economic policy committee meeting this week, Tony Brazil of the Irish Travel Agents Association, said Ryanair were looking to pay just €1 per passenger.
Instead of accepting this, Shannon Airport insisted that from the expiry of the five year deal in 2010, Ryanair would have to pay approximately €7.50 per passenger.
This means that Shannon now earns €2m for all the Ryanair passengers coming through.
“Ryanair did a deal with Shannon to land passengers for €2 each when the norm was €8 per passenger. They landed 1.8m passengers when the deal was they should have landed two million. When the deal came up for renewal, they wanted this reduced to €1, but they were only bringing in 400,000 passengers,” Mr Brazil told the council meeting.
The original deal involved Ryanair being offered a substantial discount on airport charges, in return for carrying an agreed number of passengers. Mr Brazil was responding to a question from businessman Tony Connolly: “It’s ironic because anyone whose luggage is in the least bit overweight is charged €50. How can he expect to get away not paying landing charges which is a relatively small amount?”
At the peak of its five year deal with Shannon - negotiated in 2004 - Ryanair had six aircraft based in the airport. Mr Brazil said Ryanair was “teaching Dublin Airport a lesson” when it opened further routes there. It is understood these routes were opened in a bid to cause damage to the capital’s airport, by removing flights from there.
“A lot of these routes were not profitable, and were closed quite soon after, for example those to Sweden and Rome,” he added.
Mr Brazil said the deals Ryanair had received at Kerry and Ireland West (Knock) Airports would not be possible at Shannon.
Local architect Richard Rice jokingly suggested that Shannon Airport be renamed Shannon (Dublin) Airport in order to “appease” Mr O’Leary.