Ryanair's O'Leary branded 'rude' as he blasts regional airports

Ruth Doherty


Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary has been branded 'rude and arrogant' after dismissing the role of smaller regional airports in the South East.

O'Leary's view that expanding major airports Gatwick and Heathrow 'was the only way forward' has angered Lydd airport campaigners, who are seeking approval to develop the small airport's runways.

The Ryanair bosses' beliefs that major airports should be expanded clashes with the Government's view.

He said: 'London has five airports – you've got Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City. What you do need, and we need, urgently in the South East is more runways at those airports.'

And, in his attack on London mayor Boris Johnson's plans to build a new airport between the Essex and Kent coasts, he seemed to get his geography mixed up when he pleaded: 'Please, please don't waste billions and billions of pounds building another white elephant in the Romney Marshes or wherever it is.'

Smaller regional airports disagree that they shouldn't be developed further.

Michael Walsh, of the Friends of Lydd Airport Group, told thisiskent.co.uk: 'He's rude and arrogant. Smaller regional airports play a very important role, especially in terms of local jobs, and nobody wants another runway at Heathrow.

'I flew with Ryanair once but it was awful. He should be concentrating on his own business. If he offered me a round the world ticket for free on his airline I would refuse it.'

Lydd Airport spokeswoman Jo Oliver said expanding its current runway would not need public money.

She said £30 million has already been invested by the airport's backers and another £25 million will be spent if the plans are given the green light.

She said: 'There is a very strong case for allowing regional airports like Lydd to be developed in order to cater for the forecast rise in air travel demand.'

The inquiry about Lydd airport's development reopened on Tuesday after a month-long break.

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