Business Irish

Monday 1 September 2014

Ryanair to double fleet size and carry 150m people by 2030 – Cawley

John Mulligan

Published 20/02/2014 | 02:30

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Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said the airline hoped to operate 600 aircraft within the next 15 years. Photo: Collins
Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said the airline hoped to operate 600 aircraft within the next 15 years. Photo: Collins

RYANAIR could nearly double its fleet size to 600 aircraft and carry 150m passengers a year by 2030, according to its deputy chief executive Michael Cawley.

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In an interview today with the Irish Independent, Mr Cawley also said that despite the airline having appealed a ruling in the UK that it must reduce its stake in Aer Lingus to 5pc from nearly 30pc, the holding is no longer important to Ryanair.

The Michael O'Leary-led company agreed last year to buy 175 aircraft from Boeing, which Mr Cawley – who is also chief operating officer at the airline – described as a "very modest" order.

The first of those planes will be delivered in the autumn, and the order will boost Ryanair's fleet size to a little more than 430. The airline has a current target of carrying 110m passengers a year by 2019.

The carrier is currently in talks with Boeing about buying more aircraft, but Mr Cawley said it could be next year before that order was placed. He said Ryanair could easily place another two orders of the same size it made with Boeing last year.

"There's huge untapped potential out there," according to Mr Cawley, who resigns next month from his executive role at Ryanair. He will remain as a non-executive director.

"People in Ireland and the UK fly more than anyone else in Europe. If we can replicate that across countries such as Greece and Italy, the potential is massive. I'd always claim that we can get to 150 million passengers a year, even just targeting the airports we currently serve," he said.

"With our new order, we will have about 50 aircraft in Stansted alone. We'll only have about 12 in Madrid. In Poland, we have 30pc of the market. There are 25 million people there flying through its airports but Spain, with a population (of) nine million more, has 200 million passengers passing through its airports. It wouldn't surprise me in that move from 80 million to 150 million passengers a year, if we pick up 10 million or 15 million of that in Poland."

Mr Cawley also said that Israel and Turkey would provide significant scope for Ryanair expansion.

He added that Ryanair could be in a position to commence flights between Ireland and Russia by the end of this year.

The deputy CEO confirmed that Aer Lingus no longer ranks as a priority for Ryanair. "It's very much less important.

"We failed to take over Aer Lingus but, in a lifetime where we've gone from three million passengers a year to 81 million passengers, it stands out as one of the few exceptional failures.

"Our chairman (David Bonderman) says it was the worst decision we ever made, but not that it was a bad one."

Mr Cawley said there was no board resistance to bidding for Aer Lingus, even on the third attempt. "There was nobody saying they didn't agree with it."

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