Ryanair slams Swedish environment tax plans

The low price airline Ryanair has declared its opposition to the proposal from the Swedish government and its allies to introduce a new flight tax of 100 kronor. If the tax is introduced it will harm the tourist business and economic growth in Sweden, argues the company, which is urging the Swedish parliament to reject the proposal.

To counter the proposed tax, Ryanair is cutting prices by 100 kronor on return trips, announced managing director Michael O’Leary at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Fixed environmental taxes have never had any positive effects on the environment, in that they do nothing to promote environmentally friendly alternatives,” said O’Leary.

In a side swipe at rival airline SAS, O’Leary said that if the government really wanted to help the environment it would force the Scandinavian airline to modernise its fleet to reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise “as Ryanair has done”.

The tax would not stop Ryanair from flying to Sweden, but the company said that when it came to expansion of routes, other European destinations would be prioritised.

“This tax will prevent people with normal incomes from flying and means that fewer tourists will choose to fly to and from Sweden,” said Michael O’Leary.

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‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.