Ryanair said on Thursday it did not see a risk of the European Union introducing minimum prices or compulsory limits on flights because it would disenfranchise poorer people, making it politically impossible.
French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said this week he would seek support from other EU countries for a minimum price on flights in Europe in a bid to reduce the aviation sector's contribution to climate change.
The Dutch government also said this month it would move ahead with plans to cap the number of flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport next year, pending EU approval, in a bid to reduce noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
"I think it's politically impossible," Eddie Wilson, the head of Ryanair DAC, the largest airline in the group, told a news conference when asked if EU-wide minimum pricing or a cap on air travel could be introduced in the next 5-10 years.
"People need connectivity to fly anything over 5-600 kilometres and get there quickly, and it's not about holidays or discretionary travel. Air travel is a necessity for a lot of things."
EU officials told Reuters that countries including the Netherlands and Belgium support the French idea in principle.
However, France may struggle to win sufficient support among other EU countries, which include island nations that rely on air transport, and regions with tourism sectors buoyed by low-cost flights.
Budget carrier Ryanair, Europe's largest by passenger numbers, believes instead that the airline industry should cut its carbon emissions to net zero by increasing the use of sustainable aviation fuels and flying larger, less noisy aircraft, Wilson said.
"It's not going to be done overnight and it's not going to be done by things like the French making headlines, saying we're going to ban this, we're going to bring minimum pricing in. All that is saying is that poor people can't travel and that generally doesn't fly in France," he said. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin and Conor Humphries Editing by Mark Potter)