‘Completely untrue’: Ryanair chief denies airline hiked flight prices for refugees fleeing Ukraine

‘All the flights are filling up and as they fill up, they pay the highest fares,’ says Michael O’Leary

<p>Passengers boarding on a Ryanair plane at Timioara Traian Vuia International Airport</p>

Passengers boarding on a Ryanair plane at Timioara Traian Vuia International Airport

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has denied that the airline has hiked its flight prices for Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion, calling the accusations “completely untrue”.

His comments come after the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, accused the budget carrier of increasing fares from Poland, where millions of Ukrainians have fled following Russian attacks on their country.

“Completely untrue - we have very low fare flights coming to and from Poland,” said Mr O’Leary at the Cheltenham Festival racecourse on Wednesday.

“All of the airports, we’ve checked into it, and all the flights are filling up and as they fill up they pay the highest fares.

“’But we have on today, tomorrow and in the coming days fares of €20 one way, €50 one way. There’s loads of cheap flights out there.”

The matter was raised at a European Union Affairs committee meeting at Leinster House on Wednesday, where Ambassador Gerasko said she would welcome charter flights from Poland to Ireland.

“We would be very grateful for that, because it is very difficult to buy tickets from Warsaw or from Krakow to Dublin,” she said.

“And moreover, may I address this issue to Ryanair because they raised the prices and it’s unfortunate.”

Ms Gerasko said she had contacted Ryanair a week ago but had not heard back, and confirmed that she would be meeting with Irish transport minister Eamon Ryan to discuss the matter.

When asked whether the rise in demand was due to the war in Ukraine, Mr O’Leary added: “Every flight, when it fills, the last few seats are the higher fares - that’s how we get to sell so many seats at €20 and €30.”

Ireland has been praised for its warm welcome of thousands of Ukrainian refugees in the past few days.

On Wednesday, the Irish premier Micheál Martin said that 6,646 refugees had so far come into Ireland from Ukraine.

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