Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has insisted Aer Lingus will be broken up in “one way, shape or form” because of what he said was the government’s “blinkered” view of Ireland’s aviation market.
The outspoken airline chief was speaking this morning at Ryanair’s headquarters near Dublin Airport.
“The Irish government has been so blinkered in its approach to this in the last five or six years,” he said in relation to Ryanair’s previous bids for Aer Lingus, and the current approach made for Aer Lingus by British Airways owner IAG.
He claimed Aer Lingus would become “increasingly marginalised” over the next few years as an independent airline and will “wither on the vine”.
The government controls 25.1pc of Aer Lingus, while Ryanair owns 29.8pc of its smaller rival. IAG has made an indicative offer to buy Aer Lingus for almost €1.3bn.
“If an offer emerges, we would consider that offer in due course,” said Mr O’Leary. “We have an open mind.”
He also said that despite IAG having approached Aer Lingus, it should be remembered that Ryanair could make a fourth bid to buy Aer Lingus.
However, he acknowledged that such a bid was unlikely to be successful.
Mr O’Leary also said that too much importance is being placed on Ireland’s connectivity to London Heathrow, and called it a “national obsession”.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said this week that competition and connectivity concerns would remain key issues for the government to consider in the event that IAG makes a formal offer to buy Aer Lingus.
Mr O’Leary also said its new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, for which it has placed an order to buy up to 200, will enable it to target new markets including Israel, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon and deeper into the Middle East.
Mr O’Leary was joined at Ryanair’s HQ this morning by Boeing’s vice president, global sales and marketing, John Wojick.