Ryanair targeting long haul with Alitalia fleet bid

Ryanair will bid to operate 90 planes under the Alitalia brand and use existing staff as part of the Italian airline’s restructuring, chief executive Michael O’Leary said yesterday.

Ryanair targeting long haul with Alitalia fleet bid

Ryanair has until October 2 to make a binding bid for all or part of the Italian carrier, which has been put under special administration for the second time in less than a decade.

“We will be submitting an offer for the 90 jet aircraft, with their pilots, cabin crew, routes etc,” Mr O’Leary told journalists at a press briefing in London.

Ryanair would operate the 90 leased planes using existing staff, but the offer would be dependent on some redundancies, changes to staff conditions and renegotiation of the leases, he said.

As Ryanair exclusively uses Boeing planes, Alitalia staff would be required to maintain the 90 Airbus planes, he said. Ryanair, which only currently operates short-haul routes, would also take on long-haul routes under the deal, Mr O’Leary said.

“I think one of the aspects of Alitalia that is really attractive is the long haul fleet. There is the capacity to grow very strongly,” he said.

Ryanair would be interested in bidding for the whole of Alitalia, which has around 120 planes, but such a deal would likely be blocked by regulators as it would leave Ryanair in control of over 50% of the Italian market, Mr O’Leary said.

“We’d be very willing to buy Alitalia. But I suspect...given we’re the number one airline in Italy we’d be blocked under EU competition rules,” he said.

Ryanair is one of around ten parties that has expressed an interest in a bid for all or part of the carrier. Mr O’Leary said Alitalia would likely be broken up whoever buys it and that any takeover would include competition remedies.

Meanwhile, Germany’s tourism trade body has blamed aviation regulation for the failure of the country’s second largest airline Air Berlin. Although it has expressed interest in certain assets - mainly airport slots - of Air Berlin, Mr O’Leary formally said on Wednesday that Ryanair would not be bidding for any of the German carrier’s assets.


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