Brexit would mean Ryanair investing more in Ireland: O'Leary
Ryanair will shift investment from Britain to countries including Ireland if UK voters decide to ditch their membership of the European Union, chief executive Michael O'Leary has warned.
Mr O'Leary was speaking at Stansted Airport outside London yesterday as British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne opened a new training centre for the airline.
"Let me put it simply, if Britain isn't a member of the EU these investments, these jobs will be going to other countries," said Mr O'Leary. "That's why Ryanair is campaigning so strongly for Britain to remain in the EU."
He insisted that airfares out of the UK could also rise if it leaves the EU.
Mr Osborne welcomed Ryanair's battle against Brexit, and told the airline's staff at Stansted - which is Ryanair's biggest base - that he will "fight passionately" for his belief.
"Leaving the EU is a one-way ticket to a poorer Britain," he told his audience yesterday.
He also warned that the UK risked losing £200bn (€254bn) a year in trade, and the same amount in overseas investment over the next 15 years, if the electorate opts to ditch its membership of the European Union.
Ryanair has installed four flight simulators at Stansted that will train its pilots.
The airline intends to create about 1,000 more jobs this year, as it swells its ranks of pilots, cabin crew and engineers.
It said that 450 of those jobs will be added at its 13 UK airport bases as it enlarges its fleet.
The airline handled 36 million passengers in the UK last year, a figure it expects to hit 41 million this year. It carried 107.4 million passengers in the 12 months to the end of March.
Mr O'Leary said the type of investment the airline unveiled yesterday would be lost to the UK if it leaves the trading bloc.
He said that countries including Ireland and Germany would benefit from more Ryanair spending if a Brexit went ahead.
"It is exactly this type of investment that will be lost to other competitor EU members if the UK votes to leave the European Union," he said. "We are calling on everyone to turn out in large numbers and vote 'Remain' on June 23. I am absolutely certain that the UK economy is better off in Europe".
He added: "The single market has enabled Ryanair to lead the low fare air travel revolution in Europe, as we bring millions of British citizens to Europe each year, and welcome millions of European visitors to Britain." Mr Osborne said that British jobs and livelihoods benefit directly from being in the EU.
"As Ryanair recognise, we're stronger, safer and better off in the European Union," he said.
"Attracting the investment Britain needs from around the world in order to keep growing and creating good jobs here at home is key if we are to create lasting economic security for working people."
Polls have shown that voters tend to think that staying in the European Union would be better for Britain's economy.
But they also remain almost evenly split between those who want to stay in the bloc and those who want to leave the European Union.
As part of a relentless series of warnings about the economic risks of Brexit, Mr Osborne's finance ministry is due to publish a report on the short-term impact of an 'Out' vote soon.
Additional reporting Reuters