TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyThomas Cook boss Manny Fontenla-Novoa is not known for making enemies, but he can expect a robust response from Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary after attacking the “subsidies” he says the carrier receives for flying to the Canary Islands.

O’Leary is a man who recently challenged easyJet rival Stelios Haji-Ioannou to a sumo wrestling bout and who delights in insulting the trade. Let’s hope anny keeps his sense of humour. But hasn’t he got a point?

Ryanair claims the “discounts” on Canary Island airport charges it receives are open to other airlines too. But it is hard to see how the islands’ charter partners might benefit when the “discounts” are for new capacity or for flying during off-peak periods.

What can the Canary Island authorities have been thinking of when they pressured the Spanish government to extend a scheme originally agreed for winter 2009/10 into 2012?

Of course, the islands are suffering in the recession. But it is grossly shortsighted to see Ryanair as the solution.

What happened to the islands’ aim of attracting more upscale visitors to its increasing number of four and five-star properties?

The no-frills carrier’s passengers typically spend less time and less money in a destination than charter customers. Ryanair may help keep arrival numbers up, but tourism revenue won’t rise.

The traditional operators feel angry and betrayed and may look elsewhere, while Ryanair’s record suggests it could pull out of the islands any time if its demands are not met. Spain’s authorities would do well to reconsider.


Ryanair repsonds

Dear Lucy, I found your comment on the Canary Island discount scheme to be quite incredible…
Read Stephen McNamara’s reply in full


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