Aer Lingus to be broken up, says O'Leary

Michael O'Leary

By John Mulligan

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary has accused the Government of having a "blinkered" view on the sale of Aer Lingus and warned it will be broken up in "one way, shape or form" as a result.

Mr O'Leary was referring to the various recent attempts by British Airways owner IAG to buy the national flag carrier and previous approaches by his own airline.

"The Irish Government has been so blinkered in its approach to this in the last five or six years," he said, speaking at Ryanair headquarters in Swords yesterday.

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. 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.

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.


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 - who was joined by Boeing executive John Wojick - announced an order for 200 new 737 Max aircraft will enable Ryanair to target new markets including Israel, Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon.