Chief executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, has compared Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to a “drunken tourist” over his proposals on increasing climate taxes for flying.

High polluting industries

O’Leary accused Ryan of “running around Sharm El-Sheikh like a drunken tourist” when the minister proposed increasing aviation taxes at Cop27 two weeks ago.

The low-fare airline boss said it was a remarkable proposal from a transport minister that lived on an island.

Ryan told Cop27 last month that high carbon-polluting industries such as aviation should be levied to help pay for loss and damage and climate financing in developing nations.

In the final agreement at Cop27, loss and damage funding was agreed to but not how or where that funding would come from.

Speaking at a press conference in Dublin on Wednesday, O’Leary said that Ryan should be helping to protect European airlines.

“Eamon Ryan doesn’t speak to us. He is our minister for transport but his last contribution in this debate was in Sharm El-Sheikh two weeks ago where he was running around like a drunken tourist calling for higher levies on aviation.

“For a minister for transport of an island on the periphery of Europe [that] is remarkable.

“We don’t expect him to be running around Sharm El-Sheikh calling for exemptions for aviation – we expect to pay our fair share.

“But the minimum we think he should be doing is calling for the extension of ETS (Emissions Trading System) to long-haul flights and to the transfer traffic around Europe so that all European citizens and the very rich visitors we welcome here from the Middle Eastern airlines and from America are making a fair contribution.”

Ryan met with representatives of the airline industry on Wednesday.

Climate taxes on airlines

EU transport ministers are meeting next week to discuss aviation emissions.

O’Leary wants to make sure that short-haul flights are not disproportionately taxed over long-haul flights.

Flights in and out of the EU and transfers that use an EU airport are exempt from the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). However flights within the bloc are not exempt.

O’Leary has said this imbalance is not justified.

Unusually, the Brussels-based environmental campaign group, Transport & Environment (T&E), agrees with the Ryanair boss. Something O’Leary himself said was an unusual situation.

T&E have been calling on the European Parliament to make the operators of long haul flights pay under the ETS.

However the European Commission has been resistant to this.

Speaking on Wednesday, O’Leary said: “We think our transport minister here in Ireland should be joining forces with Ryanair, with Transport & Environment at next week’s trilogue [discussions between European Commission, MEPs and the council of ministers] instead of wittering on about more levies on aviation, particularly when the only way to get off the island is aviation.”

Sustainable aviation fuel

Ryanair have announced an agreement with fossil fuel company Shell to speed up the development of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

O’Leary said he wants to have 12.5 per cent of the company’s airline fuel needs met by SAF by the end of the decade and have Ryanair be carbon neutral by 2050.

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