RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary has said that the Irish Government should “stop faffing about with its stake in Aer Lingus” and allow it to be sold off while also dismissing concerns about the airline’s Heathrow slots as “hysterical nonsense”.
The colourful boss repeated his view that he has no opinion on the offer of €2.55 per share by British airline IAG for Aer Lingus until a formal offer is tabled, but added that the Government should look to sell out its stake in Aer Lingus anyway.
He said: “We’ve long taken the view that Aer Lingus won’t remain independent into the future, therefore it’s only a matter of time as to which parent [company] or family it will join and the kind of hysterical nonsense about Heathrow slots is just that.”
“What has Aer Lingus done in the past five years? The better model is the Ryanair model. I would make the point that we are growing strongly at airports like Shannon and if the Government is really worried about regional airports in Ireland it needs Ryanair there, not to be faffing about with your 25pc stake in Aer Lingus because Aer Lingus has done nothing for growth in Ireland in the past five years.”
He added: “The issue for the Irish government should be what’s in the best interest long term interest for Ireland. I still personally that Aer Lingus should be part of a larger Irish group but I’ve been unsuccessful in persuading the Government on that so we accept that that is our fate.
“But if you don’t want it owned by Ryanair, who do you want it owned by? And instead of all this nonsense the Government should have a more intelligent long term approach to where they want Aer Lingus to go and stop all this hysterical nonsense about connectivity because it’s not really a big issue.”
Ryanair holds a near 30pc stake in Aer Lingus and has previously tabled three unsuccessful bids to buy the airline.
The airline today reported a profit of €49m in the three months to the end of December, up €84m from a loss of €35m in the same period last year.