Saturday 10 December 2016

Row erupts as Ryanair promises biggest ever sale to 'reward' voters - but only if 'Remain' wins Brexit vote

Simon Calder

Published 23/06/2016 | 08:35

Michael O'Leary; Credit Simon Calder
Michael O'Leary; Credit Simon Calder

Ryanair has stoked yet more controversy in the referendum debate by promising its “biggest-ever” seat sale on Friday - but only if the UK votes to stay in the EU.

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Michael O’Leary, chief executive of the Irish airline, said: “If Britain votes to remain there’s going to be the biggest-ever Ryanair seat sale for people who want to go and visit Europe.

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“It will be particularly aimed at Messrs Johnson, Farage and Gove - the people who really don’t know that much about Europe and need to spend more time abroad.”

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Mr O’Leary said: “We wouldn’t have grown to the size we’ve grown without Europe, the single market and deregulation. Low fares were brought to you by the single market. What Boris [Johnson] and Michael Gove want to go back to is a Europe when British Airways were charging £800 and only the rich could afford to fly.”

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Last month Ryanair was investigated by the Metropolitan Police following a “Brexit special” offer that invited British residents overseas to “fly home to vote ‘remain’” in the Referendum for €19.99.

The Vote Leave campaign director, Dominic Cummings, said the offer was “corrupt” because it offered a discount to passengers “with the sole aim of ensuring that they vote, and vote to remain in the European Union.”

Mr O’Leary rejected the suggestion that the conditional offer is illegal, saying: “On Friday it’s after the referendum is over. It’s not bribery as the cheap seats will be available for both people who vote to remain and vote to exit.

"We want to reward everybody. We’re calling for a strong remain vote. We think if there’s a remain vote air fares will fall. Ryanair will invest more in the UK, invest more in jobs and it will be better for Britain generally.”

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