Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary promised to stay another five years and render the airline’s dominance complete as competitors exit short-haul flying.
The 52-year-old chief executive has often said in the past that he plans to retire “in a few years” but never has. That plan now seems to have been put on the long finger.
Mr O’Leary told Bloomberg that Ryanair will seize on the probable collapse of major carriers such as Air France-KLM Group to earn profits on short route.
Mr O’Leary will boost the fleet to more than 400 jets by 2018 and aims to double the company’s €8.65bn market value over the same period. That could pave the way for a shift into low-cost trans-Atlantic flying as demand for wide-body planes eases, making them cheaper, he said.
Mr O’Leary said a purchase, which may also include further 737-800s, could be sealed by year’s end, with a decision hinging on pricing in view of the Max’s trade-off between economy and weight. While the re-engined jet will offer fuel savings of as much as 13 percent, modifications have made it heavier and liable for higher fees from infrastructure providers, he said.
“There’s going to be a push for the legacy carriers to walk away from the loss-making, short-haul business, handing over more and more market share,” Mr O’Leary added. “The rate of change is going to speed up. The next five years look very interesting and exciting and therefore there is no reason for me to leave.”
Shares of Ryanair have posted a 110pc price gain since May 2008. Shares in Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, has slumped 63pc over the past five years while shares in Lufthansa declined 6.1pc.
“We’ve re-invented the European airline industry away from this failed ’50s and ’60s model where you had to be rich to fly,” he said in the interview. “And what we’re going to do in the next five years is going to be even more revolutionary.”