Ryanair said it would be interested in buying parts of Thomas Cook's airport slots if no one comes forward with an offer for the entire unit.*
Kenny Jacobs, chief marketing officer of Ryanair, said: "If it goes that way and it gets broken up, are we interested in slots at certain airports? We would be."
He reiterated the company’s announcement at its recent results that Ryanair was interested in “small M&A opportunities, growing out a small airline rather than buying something big”. Mr Jacobs said that could include buying slots from Berlin-based Germania, which ceased operations last week.
UK holiday group Thomas Cook plans a "strategic review" of its airline business with "some consolidation", it said last week. The travel agent has 103 aircraft, of which a quarter serve long-haul destinations.
Airline group Lufthansa has expressed an interest in buying the long-haul operations of Thomas Cook's German airline, which the tour operator put up for sale after a poor spate of results.
Mr Jacobs said Ryanair was not interested in buying any part of Norwegian, which recently announced an emergency fundraising. Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has been publicly critical of Norwegian.
Mr Jacobs predicted that disruption to flights in the European summer would be worse than last year, which was the most serious on record, because of continued problems with air traffic controllers in Europe.
“I promise the French air traffic controllers will go on strike in May, as they always do,” Mr Jacobs said. “That will probably be followed by the Italians.” He pointed to staff shortages in Germany and recent strikes in Belgium.
Delays rose to a total of 19.1 million minutes last year, double that of the previous year. The average delay per flight was 1.73 minutes in 2018 against EU performance targets of half a minute.
– Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019
* This article has been amended to make clear that Ryanair would only be interested in buying certain Thomas Cook airport slots rather than any other part of its airline business.