O’Leary: No third airline bid unless Government asks

RYANAIR will wait for the Government to ask it to rescue Aer Lingus before it makes another bid for the airline.

Chief executive of Ryanair Michael O’Leary said unless that happens it will not be making a third bid for the former state airline.

Ryanair owns just under 30% of Aer Lingus shares and the company has no plans to sell this stake.

He said Aer Lingus was run by the Government and the unions, who “couldn’t boil a kettle”.

Ryanair made an offer of €750 million for Aer Lingus in December but later withdrew the bid after the Government, which holds a 25% stake, rejected it.

“I think Aer Lingus is worthless. If the accountancy rules allowed us, we would write down our stake to zero,” he said.

He said he believes Aer Lingus will run out of cash in the next 18 months.

Mr O’Leary also said that the swine flu outbreak is only a risk to Asians and Mexicans “living in slums”.

He said travellers had little to fear from the deadly virus and predicted that a couple now being treated in Scotland for the illness after a honeymoon in Mexico was in no danger.

“It is a tragedy only for people living... in slums in Asia or Mexico,” he said. “But will the honeymoon couple from Edinburgh die? No. A couple of Strepsils will do the job,” he said.

Ryanair is pushing ahead with plans to close all its check-in desks at airports by next October meaning passengers will have to check-in online.

The move will save Ryanair about €50m a year and result in up to 50 job losses in Ireland.

Mr O’Leary also described the Aer Lingus revenue figures released yesterday as appalling and said “it goes to show that the board misled investors” when it promised increased profits three months ago.

Mr O’Leary was speaking in London, where he announced a new licensing agreement for websites set up to compare airline ticket prices.

Ryanair is to allow price comparison websites to access their fare information but will continue to block websites from re-selling Ryanair tickets.

Also yesterday, Aer Arann said it will implement salary reductions of an average of 7% this year.

Executive and management salaries will be reduced by an average of 17%. It said redundancies at the airline since the cost-reduction programme was introduced last October will be contained at about 60.

Initially the airline had planned on up to 100 redundancies.

Ryanair shares fell 5.5% to €3.12 yesterday.


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