RYANAIR chief executive Michael O'Leary has ratcheted up the battle to take over Aer Lingus with claims he would offer discount transatlantic fares if he owned the airline.
Mr O'Leary, in an interview with this newspaper, said he would offer €99 fares to the US if he succeeded in Ryanair's long-running attempt to take over the carrier.
Many will see his comments as a further volley in the propaganda war to get control of Aer Lingus -- currently being ruled on by the EU Commission.
"We will take bundles out of Aer Lingus's cost base. Instead of having €200 fares across the Atlantic we will have €99 fares in the winter," he claimed.
"How many flights do you think you can fill going to the States for €99? Every single one of them," he told our Business Week supplement.
Ryanair, he said, would retain the Aer Lingus brand and the former state-owned airline would continue to fly to different airports.
Average Aer Lingus fares would fall to €65 from €85 but would remain higher than the Ryanair average of €45, he claimed. "We have no desire to take Aer Lingus and paint yellow harps on them. We need a two-airline brand strategy," he added.
Instead, he said he would expand Aer Lingus from 10 million to 15 million passengers a year by taking Aer Lingus into new bases across Europe.
The Ryanair boss also claimed he was set up by the Spanish authorities following reports Ryanair planes were forced to make several Mayday calls. "System-wide we had less than 100 safety incidents and all of these were routine. It is unusual to have ostensibly a European government leaking patently flawed stories to the Spanish newspapers."
Mr O'Leary also promised that Ryanair won't be changing any time soon or copying the work culture in Google.
"We are not here for bean bags and pool tables. We have to work hard. It is the only way to get this thing done. That is how commoditised travel services work," he said. "As long as you give your customers a big price advantage they will go with you."