Ryanair will launch eleven new routes this winter from Charleroi, enough to create 200 additional jobs

The Irish company also plans to create 200 new jobs in Belgium for pilots, cabin crew and engineers. These new jobs must accompany the ongoing resumption of air traffic after the coronavirus crisis and the upcoming delivery of new aircraft, the Boeing 737 MAX, some of which should be based in Belgium by next summer. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, visiting Brussels, however warns against the effects on these plans of a potential project to further tax the aviation sector in Belgium.

From the end of October, the 11 new routes will link Charleroi to Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland and Sweden), Eastern Europe and Morocco, among others. This extension of the network will increase the number of Ryanair planes based in Belgium to 15 (13 in Charleroi and two in Zaventem) and the number of flights departing from these two airports to 100. Around 150 new jobs will be created in Hainaut and 50 at Brussels Airport within 12 months, for more than 500 already existing jobs.

New workstations that will also accompany the delivery and then the arrival of new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with greater transport capacity, at the two Belgian airports.

Thanks to this, the company intends to transport nine million passengers to and from Belgium on an annual basis, which would make it the country’s leading company, ahead of Brussels Airlines. According to CEO Michael O’Leary, Ryanair is thus leading the post-Covid recovery for Belgium in the aviation sector, and this without having touched a euro cent of state aid, he criticizes.

The boss of the low-cost company, however, linked these developments in Zaventem to a health situation that would not deteriorate too much. But also to obtaining more slots for this winter and next summer, many of which now belong to Brussels Airlines. A company subsidized by its parent company Lufthansa and which wastes billions of euros in state aid, in the words of the boss with his tongue-in-cheek language. “The problems of Brussels Airlines already dated from before the Covid crisis and will survive it,” he said.

Michael O’Leary deplores the fact that, despite a 30% reduction in its fleet, the Belgian carrier continues to “sit” on the slots available to it at Brussels Airport, which Ryanair is eyeing.

The CEO is optimistic, however, and hopes that this situation, made possible by a temporary exception to European slot regulations, will be resolved during the coming winter. He then expects to be able to significantly expand the operations of the low-cost company in Zaventem in 2022, going from two planes which will be based there this winter to five to six next summer, some of which will be the new 737 MAX. He would also like airport taxes to be reduced there because they are “very expensive for an airport which is not very large”, unlike those in force at Charleroi, “one of the best markets in Europe “and Ryanair’s fourth main base in Europe. Two more planes will be parked there next summer.

The Irish leader also conditioned this growth in Belgium on the rejection of the recent recommendation of the High Council of Finance (CSF) to further tax the aviation sector. In particular with environmental taxes to the tune of 1.7 billion euros just for the latter, which would include excise duties on kerosene, a 6% VAT on the sale of plane tickets (against no tax for the moment ) and a boarding tax of 10 euros per plane ticket for departures.

“Youpie!”, “Good idea, guys!”, He reacted to this proposal, calling the CSF “Council of lunatic ideas” or “Superior council of stupidity”. “What will this do for tourism and jobs in Belgium?” He asked, pointing to the current reduction in tourism by 70% in Brussels. In his eyes, the recovery will not be achieved by taxing the aviation sector and travel to Belgium.

“Belgium needs a traffic recovery plan and not a crazy plan to introduce new taxes. We must reduce airport charges and taxes to boost tourism,” he insisted.

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