Leading industry figures challenged the confidence in European growth expressed by former EC president Jose Manuel Barroso at the WTTC Summit yesterday.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary told the Summit: “Any sense of optimism should be tempered by the level of incompetence to be delivered on us by the European Commission.”
O’Leary said: “If this conference had been held last week no one would have got here because French air traffic controllers were on strike.” He accused the EC of failing to take action against the strike.
He added: “All Ryanair’s growth will take place in Europe, but we have to be aware of how that growth will be affected by Europe’s politicians.”
Priceline president and chief executive Darren Huston said: “I’m becoming more optimistic about growth [in Europe]. But there are a lot of issues.
“Europe does not really operate as a single market. Data roaming is terrible. Our customers hate to data roam [in Europe] because they don’t know what they are paying.
“Another issue is tax. It is constantly changing. These things could be fixed in a common market.”
Huston said: “Some of Europe’s infrastructure is ageing. I wonder why hotel companies are not investing more in Europe.
Turkish Airlines president and chief executive Temil Kotil said: “European airports are declining. Europe’s hub airports are not open 24 hours. Europe’s politicians don’t care about transit passengers.
“The only airports that are growing are in Asia. Turkey is building a 150-million passenger airport.
“European aviation is not growing as fast as Asia’s.
“O’Leary expressed confidence in Ryanair’s growth prospects in Europe, saying: “We’re competing with a lot of incompetent providers.”
But he added: “We waste too much time debating infrastructure. In general, Europe is well served by airports. The problem in London is that the issue is hijacked by politicians.”
Huston said: “One great thing about Europe is you get a lot of vacations. In the US people get two weeks and take one.”
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