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Ryanair to cut earlier summer flights to Greece, calls Tourism Minister “Marie Antoinette”

Low cost airline Ryanair will cut two months earlier the summer flights to Greece.

In an interview to Sunday newspaper To Vima, Chief Commercial Manager of Ryanair David O’ Brien said that the Ryanair was «forced to move” to end two months before the summer flight schedule in Greece.

The reason for doing so? The traditional Ryanair reason: taxes.

O Brien said the decision was taken after the Greek government’s exemplary ignoring the company’s proposals for increasing passenger traffic. He stressed “we have sent 25 letters over the last two years, but we have received only three replies and none of them is a response, positive or negative, to our proposals.

O’ Brien described Deputy Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura as “Marie Antoinette of Greece”because to Ryanair’s proposal to increase Greece’s visitors by 5 million she replied that it was “not within her competence” to decide on this. He also claimed that there has been no government proposal to   “extend the tourist season in Greece.”

“Speaking on public television, she just said it was a social tourism program, which is excellent for beneficiaries, but the tourism strategy can not be limited to the recycling of money of Greek taxpayers, “ O’ Brien said.

He also attacked Germany and FRAPORT that has won the privatization of 14 regional airports.

“What the Germans will do will be to increase the infrastructure hat outside the high season will be empty. Then, as a monopoly, will raise fees for airports. They will destroy tourism island attracting more tour operators only for two months, whereas what they really need the islands are more passengers for more months.”

He also expresses his concern about the creation of cartels in airport charges,  since “the company that is in charge of the airports [meaning the Fraport] has already stated that charges will be at the levels of all the Mediterranean countries. In short, he says that it should be higher. ”

David O’ Brien said he cannot understand why the Greeks do not want to have “10 million visitors in 3 years,” and implied that the Greek government is rather afraid to insult its partners-friends.

Ryanair is notorious for avoiding any tax hikes and in February the company announced to cut routes and jobs in Italy as a “result of a 40 percent increase in passenger departure taxes.” Ryanair said that from October it would drop 16 routes and 600 jobs after the Italian government this year raised departure taxes to 9 euros ($9.81) from 6.50 euros to help subsidise layoffs at former flagship carrier Alitalia.

Is Ryanair afraid of the new taxes to be imposed in Greece? Certainly. Last year, RYANAIR Chief called Greek Gov’t “lunatics” & “nutters” and wants exemption from Athens Airport Taxes & Fees.