The head of the regional government of the Azores, José Manuel Bolieiro, has said that the government had “done what it had to do” to maintain Ryanair’s operation to the archipelago, rejecting the reaction of “circumstantial commentators”.
“The government has already clarified and I’m not going to keep repeating the government’s message over and over again in the face of circumstantial commentators. The regional secretary said that, as far as the government was concerned, we did what we had to do,” said Bolieiro on Monday, when questioned by journalists about Ryanair’s operation to the archipelago.
The leader of the Azorean executive (PSD/CDS-PP/PPM), who was speaking in Ponta Delgada on the sidelines of the meeting of the Economic and Social Council’s tripartate talks committee, was alluding to the statements made by the Secretary for Tourism, Mobility and Infrastructure on Thursday.
On that day, Berta Cabral revealed that there was an agreement for Ryanair not to completely abandon the region and said she hoped the company would “honour the commitment” made to the executive, which involves reducing flights from next winter.
Bolieiro emphasised that there was an “understanding” between the regional government of the Azores and the airline, but refused to comment on the “froth of the day”.
“The government did everything in its power to make its position and understanding clear. This has been said from the outset. There is nothing left unsaid on the part of the government because the secretary was clear and objective in her statements,” he emphasised.
The head of the regional government said that it is necessary to “understand the autonomous decisions of private companies” and emphasised that the executive “cannot answer for private companies”.
“I don’t see that this is even a question of partisan dialectics that can be made. Even with entrepreneurs. They understand better than anyone the autonomy of private business decisions,” he declared.
On its website, consulted on Monday by the Lusa news agency, Ryanair does not offer flights between the islands of São Miguel and Terceira and the Portuguese mainland as of November.
On Thursday, Berta Cabral admitted that the “understanding is based on a reduction in flights”, but declined to go into detail as the connections are not yet available on the Irish carrier’s platform.
On Saturday, following the regional secretary’s statements, the leader of the PS/Azores, Vasco Cordeiro, demanded clarification from the regional government on the agreement with the airline Ryanair, considering the issue too important to be treated with “half-truths”.
“This issue is too important, both for air accessibility to the Azores and for the tourism sector, to be dealt with by the regional government as it has been so far, in a muddle of half-truths and half-words that only add to the climate of uncertainty,” said the socialist and former head of the Azorean government (2012-2020).
On 17 August, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Azores (CCIA) considered that the regional government must take an “incisive stance” on “the threat of Ryanair abandoning the region”, stressing the importance of tourism in the local economy.