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tourism blow Ryanair set to transfer up to 20 percent of its Irish capacity to European airports

I would be very worried for Irish tourism," Michael O'Leary said. 'There is no agenda for transport in this country...'

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Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary gestures during an AFP interview at A4E aviation summit in Brussels on March 3, 2020. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary gestures during an AFP interview at A4E aviation summit in Brussels on March 3, 2020. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary gestures during an AFP interview at A4E aviation summit in Brussels on March 3, 2020. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has said it is moving “10 to 20pc” of its Irish capacity to other European countries as he accused the Republic’s government of doing “nothing for the sector”.

The airline has announced it is mothballing its operations at Belfast International and Belfast City Airport, blaming the UK government’s failure to abolish air passenger duty and accusing the airports of a lack of “recovery incentives”.

In an interview in the Irish Times, Mr O’Leary said Irish aviation and tourism faced “four to five years” of difficulties and that he would be moving up to 20pc of capacity to European countries where aviation is recovering faster.

Confirming its departure from Northern Ireland, a spokesman said on Tuesday: “Due to the Government’s refusal to suspend or reduce APD and the lack of Covid recovery incentives from both Belfast airports, this winter Ryanair will cease operations from Belfast International and Belfast City Airport from the end of the summer schedule.

“These aircraft will be reallocated to lower-cost airports elsewhere in the UK and Europe for the winter schedule, which starts in November.”

But it has added six new routes from Shannon Airport in Co Clare for the winter, bringing its services from there to 18.

Speaking in Zagreb, Croatia, where it has launched a new route, Mr O’Leary said: “I would be very worried for Irish tourism. There is no agenda for transport in this country. Ireland is an island on the periphery of Europe.

“Aviation and tourism should be front and centre of Government policy . . . but we cannot get any sense out of the Department of Transport,” he said.

But Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said the Irish government was working to restore lost connectivity and had provided €300m in supports such as wage subsidies and lending.

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