Budapest, Hungary – Low-cost carrier Ryanair isn’t pulling any punches in its ongoing dispute with the Hungarian government, as shown by its CEO’s latest outburst on Tuesday.
“One can understand why the Hungarians might impose an excess profits tax on the oil and gas sectors, who are making windfall profits as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said in a statement.
“But to extend this ‘excess profits’ tax to a loss-making industry like air travel, which is struggling to recover from 2 years of Covid, and the more recent impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shows that [Economic Development] Minister [Márton] Nagy has forgotten his economics”, he slams, before continuing: “We will be sending him a new booklet ‘Economics for Dummies’, which we hope he will study”.
“At a time when many other EU countries are lowering taxes and fees to recover traffic, tourism, and jobs, the Hungarian [government] is doing the opposing by making air travel to/from Hungary more expensive and less expensive,” O’Leary concludes, calling on local authorities to reverse this “idiotic” tax.
In its statement, the Irish low-cost giant further called the excess profits tax a “highway robbery […] out of touch with reality”.
As Kafkadesk reported earlier, Ryanair has been up in arms against the Hungarian government’s plans to introduce a windfall tax on excess profits on a number of large private companies, including banks, energy companies and airlines.
Describing the government’s move as “beyond stupid”, the airline last week announced it would pass on the added cost to passengers, including for bookings made before the tax comes into effect in July.
In response, the Hungarian government immediately announced it was launching a consumer protection investigation into Ryanair’s practices.
“The government considers it unacceptable and rejects in the strongest terms Ryanair’s passing of the special tax on extra profit levied on airlines to passengers,” Minister Nagy said when announcing the probe, adding that the government would do everything it could to keep the tax from falling on consumers’ shoulders.
In its statement released this Tuesday, Ryanair said it “welcomes the proposed consumer protection investigation” and called on local authorities “to extend this probe to investigate how the Hungarian government is introducing an ‘excess profits’ tax on a loss-making industry such as airlines.”