O'Leary criticises State involvement in aviation
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has criticised the structure of Irish aviation and the high level of involvement by the State.
At a policy conference in Dublin yesterday he said the Government was “incapable of producing services efficiently”. He reiterated his view that the Dublin Airport Authority should be broken up and privatised, and that the Commission for Aviation Regulation should be closed.
“Call [estate agent] Sherry Fitzgerald today and put them [Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports] up for sale,” Mr O’Leary told the conference on aviation policy for Ireland at the Convention Centre Dublin.
“We need to do something different, we have got to get the Government out of producing airport infrastructure,” he added.
Mr O’Leary restated Ryanair’s desire to acquire Aer Lingus and called on the Government to sell him its 25 per cent stake in the airline. He said Aer Lingus was “too small” to be able to compete with Ryanair over the long term and predicted it would struggle to survive as an independent entity.
Aer Lingus rejects criticism
“Aer Lingus does have a future except as part of one of the big five airline groups in Europe. We’d like to buy it but it certainly won’t survive as an independent airline in five years’ time.”
This view was rejected by Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller, who said that, unlike Ryanair, Aer Lingus was growing its traffic from Ireland and was now once again the biggest carrier here.
Mr Mueller said there were growth opportunities available from Ireland and noted it would add capacity to its long-haul services to the US next year.
He said Dublin Airport would not need a new runway for at least 10 years, possibly 20, due to demand constraints and existing surplus capacity.
The conference marked the beginning of a consultation period to develop a new civil aviation policy for Ireland. Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said he was determined that whatever policy was drafted would not simply “gather dust on a shelf”.
Noting the sector is worth €4.1 billion to the economy annually, he said aviation policy had been “made on an ad hoc basis” in the past and he wanted to move to a different model.