O’Leary condemns UK inquiry into Aer Lingus stake
Ryanair chief executive says inquiry by UK competition authority is ‘a political farce’ that has wasted millions
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said British taxpayers have been left with the cost of paying for the UK Competition Commission’s inquiry into Ryanair’s attempt to take over an airline “that very few of them know because they have never flown on it”. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire
The inquiry by the UK’s competition authority into Ryanair’s ownership of a 29 per cent stake in Aer Lingus is “a political farce” that has wasted millions, Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary has said.
The Competition Commission is expected to order in September that Ryanair sell its stake in Aer Lingus. Mr O’Leary has forecast that the case will spend “the next five, or six years in the High Court, the Supreme Court [in London] and the European Court”.
Competition on Irish-British routes has intensified since Ryanair first began its attempt to buy Aer Lingus, but Mr O’Leary said the commission had now “invented” concerns about his company’s future conduct to justify its inquiry.
Mr O’Leary’s remarks in London came as he announced that Ryanair would increase the number of daily flights this winter between Dublin and Stansted by one, from seven to eight; while an extra flight to Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Bristol would also be laid on.
British taxpayers, he said, had been left with the cost of paying for the inquiry into Ryanair’s attempt to take over an airline “that very few of them know because they have never flown on it”.
Meanwhile, he said that instructions to Ryanair pilots to reduce speeds during flights – which would increase a 70-minute flight by two minutes – would save the airline €80 million-€100 million on its €1.3 billion annual fuel bill.
“We don’t need any jet-jockeys here,” he declared, adding that the airline was keen to find ways of cutting down on its fuel bill that were efficient and safe. He once again denied that Ryanair aircraft reduced fuel- loads to save money.
He also rejected charges that had been made in Spain that Ryanair had increased the cost of flights to Santiago de Compostela following last week’s tragic high-speed train crash, saying the airline was frequently the victim of social media myths.
Luggage prices on Ryanair flights, which have increased to €30 for the summer season, now meant that fewer than 20 per cent of the airline’s passengers now carried more than the 10kg allowance: “Husbands of the world are grateful to me, I am sure,” he said.