O'Leary confirms Ryanair's intent to charge flyers for use of toilets


RYANAIR SAYS it is serious about plans to charge passengers for using the toilet on its aircraft.

“It’s going to happen,” chief executive Michael O’Leary told journalists yesterday about the proposal, which garnered huge publicity worldwide when he threw it out as a vague possibility last week.

Mr O’Leary said aircraft manufacturers had told him there were technical and safety issues about using a coin-operated system on toilet doors, so the proposal now was that passengers would swipe a credit card to gain entry.

He said that if the airline was prevented from charging passengers on the way in to the toilet, it would impose the charge when they were on the way out. It would also impose soiling charges where appropriate.

Announcing Ryanair’s “rescue plan” for Irish tourism, Mr O’Leary said recently announced cuts in service at Dublin and Shannon airports would be reversed if the Government agreed to scrap the €10 travel tax due to come into force at the end of the month.

The airline says scrapping the tax would win back the two million lost passengers expected as a result of its cuts and stem the decline in passenger numbers through Irish airports.

It has also promised to increase passenger numbers at Dublin airport by a further two million if the Government orders the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to reduce passenger charges by 30 per cent.

The proposals are made in a “rescue plan” for Irish tourism presented by Mr O’Leary to a meeting of the Government-appointed Tourism Renewal Group in Dublin Castle yesterday.

Speaking to journalists afterwards, he dismissed the group as “the same old failed civil servants and hangers-on” who would not be able to come up with the solution the country needed.

“Instead of wasting scarce Government resources on more consultants’ reports, talking shops, strategy review groups or any of the other failed bureaucratic initiatives so beloved by the Government and the Civil Service, they should implement our measures, which would enable traffic and tourism numbers in Ireland to grow by 20 per cent over the next two years,” said Mr O’Leary.

Ryanair says the Government could save €125 million by scrapping public service obligation subsidies on air routes, closing the “useless” aviation regulator’s office and lopping €100 million off Government spending on tourism.

It says the “white elephant” airport metro in Dublin should be scrapped, giving an annual saving of €250 million. It also wants competing airports and terminals to be allowed to incentivise low-cost traffic growth rather than focusing on new route schemes.

Mr O’Leary said Government policy was killing the tourism industry.

“The €10 travel tax is without doubt the most stupid initiative of many stupid initiatives taken by this Government in recent months. You cannot stimulate tourism by taxing tourists. These travel taxes have already caused UK and Dutch air traffic to collapse. The will have a similar effect on Irish traffic, particularly to the regions.”

He pointed out that Ryanair’s average air fare from Shannon was less than €10 including taxes and charges, so the tax would effectively double fares.

The Government last week tweaked the proposed tax by exempting provincial airports in Donegal and Sligo from the charge, but Mr O’Leary said these airports were inconsequential.

“Tourism is in crisis, traffic is in freefall, but this is immediately reversible by scrapping the tax.”

According to the Ryanair boss, the airline is growing in every other European country except “high-cost” Ireland.

Mr O’Leary also revealed that 8,000 passengers had called or texted on their mobile phones in the first week of service of the airline’s on-board mobile connection.