In the last few days, the owner of Ryanair launched a public blackmail operation against the Portuguese State, making it clear what such people would do if they caught him depending on foreign companies to ensure his air connections.
Without any qualms, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the guy stated clearly: either they give him what he wants (this time, several slots at Lisbon airport) or he withdraws part of the fleet that currently operates in Lisbon, laying off 150 people and closing 20 routes in the middle of summer to cause hundreds of millions of euros in losses in the tourism industry.
This fleet, which the guy moves from airport to airport as he pleases, at the whim of his moves to get the best profit rates for himself, already operates in Portugal, which means that he already has slots to do so. In fact, a few months ago, we were all informed of the new routes created with the three new planes (which it is now threatening to remove), the 300 new jobs created (which have now become 150), and we all read of the promise of hundreds of new jobs and millions of euros of wealth to be distributed if they delivered the more than 200 slots it wanted in Lisbon. The letter sent now marks the passage from the phase of promising the world to the phase of threatening and blackmailing the country.
And yet, we should all be grateful to the guy. By blackmailing the country in person and in color, at a time when Portugal still has an instrument like TAP, it makes it clearer what such people would do if they found the Portuguese state dependent on foreign airlines to ensure its air connections.
Just as has happened elsewhere, it would be blackmailing to get its fares reduced “or I pull out the planes”, to reduce its operating costs “or I pull out the planes”, to authorize medieval labor practices “or I pull out the planes”, to pay a handsome operating stimulus “or I pull out the planes”. And it wouldn’t just be the State that would be blackmailed. The hotel owners in the Algarve and the respective Região de Turismo would have to come forward “or I pull out the planes”, the same in Madeira “or I pull out the planes”, etc.
We should also be thankful that, after such crude blackmail, the guy still has the nerve to claim that he does what he does to help the Portuguese economy which, he says, would gain 250 million Euros with the decision to transfer dozens of TAP slots to Ryanair. It may help some to realize that now, as in all previous maneuvers, the only thing that moves the guy is to make money at Portugal’s expense, and make as much money as possible for him. In capitalism, companies are instruments to remunerate, as much as possible, the capital employed in them.
The response of a sovereign state should safeguard two dimensions: (1) Maintain a national (therefore public) TAP capable of ensuring what is strategic for the country; (2) Reduce Ryanair’s weight in the operation of all national airports, so that it can never again threaten and blackmail Portugal.