Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has predicted that there will be three major global airlines serving most of the world’s travellers in the coming years.
However, he insisted that he would not be concerned at such a development, and said that the Irish carrier will continue to focus on growing its short haul business across Europe for the foreseeable future.
Speaking at the 28th annual Carmichael lecture in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin today Mr O’Leary said: “In five years’ time there will be another radical change in the airline industry.
“The three big legacy carriers in Europe – BA (British Airways), Lufthansa and Air France [who are] partnered up with three big US majors – are fighting three big Gulf carriers, trying to keep them out.
He added: “Ultimately I think Gulf carriers will buy large minority stakes in BA, Air France and Lufthansa and what you will see is three big global superpowers consisting of a Gulf carrier, a European major and a US major and they will have enormous control and almost limitless deep pockets to fund better aircrafts, better service and lower prices in the economy cabin in long haul and they will connect you all around the world but they will have no interest in short haul.
“[This] means that we will continue to dominate as long as we don’t screw up short haul in Europe and I think there is enough to be getting on with over the next five to eight years. If we can grow from 105m to about 180m passengers over the next five or six years that is a far better business plan for the immediate future rather than worrying about long haul.”