O’Leary tells AGM he’s not finished yet

RYANAIR’S chief executive has told shareholders he will be around for a number of years yet and a long-haul airline could be up to six years away.

Speaking at the company’s AGM in Dublin yesterday, Michael O’Leary also said the only way to secure the future of Aer Lingus in Ireland is for Ryanair to buy it. “I would be very concerned for the future of Aer Lingus in Ireland if it was bought by a non-Irish carrier,” Mr O’Leary said, adding that Ryanair remains a willing investor in the airline.

Ryanair has also submitted proposals to the Government on scrapping the travel tax and the separation of the Dublin Airport Authority. In return, he said he would increase traffic at Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports, add six million passengers in Ireland and 20 additional aircraft over five years.

“Ireland is a small peripheral economy on the edge of Europe. However, tourism is one industry that is extremely price sensitive and responds rapidly to cost reductions.”

Ryanair expects passenger numbers to rise 11% to around 73.5 million in full year 2011.

The chief executive also said he was “comfortable” with the net profit outlook for fiscal 2011 of 10% to 15% growth to €350 million to €375m. It was too early to change guidance “upwards or downwards” before the low-cost carrier’s next set of quarterly results in November, he said.

He said that the topic of a new chief executive will become more pressing in 2012 or 2013 when the airline experiences slower growth.

“This is not a one-man company. We will need a different set of skills to me.”

Mr O’Leary doesn’t expect a low-cost transatlantic fleet in the short-term.

“It can’t start unless you can get a fleet of long-haul aircraft cheaply. I don’t see any possibility for another four, five, six years.”

Ryanair also called on the European Commission to open up air traffic control in Europe to competition.

He said providers should be allowed to compete with each other across Europe.


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