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News | Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Ryanair proposes base in Malta against reduced charges

Charlot Zahra

Irish low cost airline Ryanair is proposing setting up a base in Malta hosting two aircraft as soon as next October.
At the same time, it called on the tourism authorities to offer a discount on airline charges to those airlines that would bring volume to Malta, the Irish airline’s head of Route development, Ken O’Toole, told journalists during a press conference held yesterday.
The discussions with the Maltese authorities were at an initial stage, and the airline was not putting any deadlines to the Maltese Government before it makes a decision.
“Ryanair has provided a rescue plan to the Malta Tourism Authority which would see us base two aircrafts and deliver in excess of a million additional passengers to sustain 1,000 local jobs in Malta,” O’Toole said.
“We call on the Malta Tourism Authority to work with Ryanair to promote the island internationally and allow us to deliver 1 million of high spending international tourists to Malta which will generate over €275 million in tourism revenues and protect the future of those working in Malta’s tourism industry,” he added.
“They have to see whether our proposal fits with the overall strategy that Malta wanted to adopt regarding tourism,” O’Toole explained.
O’Toole said that the reduction in tourist numbers in Malta over the past few months “was not the result of the credit crunch but is a structural problem”.
He said that this was a question of bringing down costs, including airport charges, which were “quite high” when compared to the rest of the Europe.
“Other European airports had already reduced their airport charges, therefore Malta should do the same,” he said.
Therefore the Maltese Government had to reward those airlines that bring volumes, such as Ryanair, by reducing its airport charges according to total amount of passengers brought to Malta.
The Malta would host two aircraft and serve 21 routes. “That would bring to Malta more than 1.6 million passengers, creating 1,100 new jobs and a visible spend of €1.6 million, ” O’Toole told journalists.
He said that over the past two years that Ryanair has been in Malta it always delivered on its promises.
The airline was seeking to open new routes from Scandinavia to Malta, Eastern European counties such as Poland, and even from Northern Africa.

czahra@mediatoday.com.mt

 

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20 May 2009
ISSUE NO. 583

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