Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary delivered a buoyant economic forecast today in the face of the global financial crisis.
He insisted that the credit crunch was “good for business” and said his low fares airline would reap the benefits of the financial gloom.
“We are not just looking at a recession but a depression,” the colourful businessman said.
“We are really looking at four or five years of recessionary economics and that’s great for Ryanair’s business.
“People are down-trading. Everyone will be wanting to trade down now.
“We have a great economic outlook, the great thing about flying is that people will never stop.
“They have got to go to weddings or stag parties, they have to go home for Christmas, they need to fly to work.
“In the past, in recessions, more and more people started to trade down and that’s exactly what’s going to happen in the next few years.
“If you can’t make money in this business you’d be a fool.”
Mr O’Leary added that he wanted to double his company’s traffic and profits by 2012.
His defiant predictions contrast with the economic difficulties currently stalking the travel industry.
In July, budget airline Zoom went into administration and grounded all its flights, with XL Leisure following in September, both companies blaming the rising cost of oil for the collapse.
Mr O’Leary said he thought “more would follow” in their wake.
He blamed the industry regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for not monitoring the companies’ situations more closely and leaving passengers stranded.
“They did nothing,” he said. “They should have firmly told them to stop taking bookings. Instead things went tits up and thousands of passengers are left stranded.”
Speaking at the London Chamber of Commerce Mr O’Leary also renewed his protest against “high and unjustified fuel surcharges” imposed by other operators.
He accused British Airways of failing to pass on the recent dip in the cost of oil to passengers.
Ryanair also announced they would be releasing one million free seats for travel between November 15 and December 16, as an incentive for people to fly with the no-frills airline.