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Eamon Ryan (left) and Michael O'Leary (right) Alamy
Dublin Airport

Eamon Ryan meets Michael O'Leary a week after the Ryanair boss told the minister 'grow or go'

After the meeting, O’Leary said there was no “meeting of minds”.

RYANAIR BOSS MICHAEL O’Leary has accused Ireland’s transport minister Eamon Ryan of sending out the message that the country is “closed for business”.

Following a meeting between the two men, O’Leary said a failure to lift the passenger cap at Dublin Airport meant that airline business was now being sent to other parts of Europe.

Ryan said the “very good meeting” had concentrated on issues rather than personalities.

The meeting occurred one week after the airline executive launched a personal broadside against the minister in a row over passenger caps at the airport.

Last week, O’Leary said Ryan and tourism minister Catherine Martin were “dunces” for failing to act on the airline’s demands to remove the cap limiting Dublin Airport to 32 million passengers per year.

The Ryanair boss said the Green Party politicians should raise the passenger cap or leave politics.

Following their meeting today, O’Leary said: “We met for an hour, there wasn’t any meeting of minds.

“We are very critical of his failure as minister for transport implementing Ireland’s aviation policy, which is to grow traffic, grow aviation jobs and grow the contribution of aviation to the Irish economy.

“He essentially said to us he is not going to intervene in the matter of the Dublin Airport cap; he has this excuse that it would render the whole planning process in Ireland redundant.”

O’Leary added: “The sad result of this is that we are now sending aircraft, four aircraft that we had planned to base in Dublin this summer, are now gone to southern Italy and Poland.

“That is about two million passengers have been lost to Ireland, about 800 jobs have been lost.

“He has no solution for this for the next four years.”

He continued: “This is typical of what we get from Eamon Ryan, all talk, no action, no delivery.

“Eamon Ryan has essentially told us that despite the fact that his own aviation policy is to grow, he’s now telling us sorry I’m not going to take any action.

“Send the growth elsewhere, Ireland’s loss will be to the benefit of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece.

“Jobs, our tourism industry and aviation in Ireland is now capped. We’re closed for business.”

Ryan said the two men had disagreed over the passenger cap, but had more agreement discussing sustainable aviation fuels. Ryan said that lifting the cap would”completely undermine our planning system”. 

He insisted that the planning process must be respected and that he would be breaking the law by intervening and removing the passenger cap.

He added: “To be honest, it was more about the issues than the personalities.”

Ryan said: “There were important things we needed to talk about, if it turns into a personal thing you miss the real story, which is in my mind how do we make aviation sustainable, and in his mind how do we get the airport working properly.

“But you can’t do that by breaking the law, you can’t throw out planning. We’ve lost so much in this country by people riding roughshod over the planning system.

“He thinks I can just go in and change the law, change the rules, change the conditions, you can’t do that, you’ve got to respect the planning system.”

Asked if O’Leary had apologised for his comments last week, and the publicity stunt involving cutouts of Ryan and Media Minister Catherine Martin, the Transport Minister said, “No, and I didn’t ask for one”.

Includes reporting from Christina Finn

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