Ryanair wants to challenge Germany’s Lufthansa in its home market, chief executive Michael O’Leary was quoted as saying, as he predicted the domestic airline would fail in its bid to build a low-cost business.
Mr O’Leary said Ryanair wanted to grow its market share to 15%-20% from a current 4% in the next three to four years, in an interview with the Handelsblatt business daily.
He dismissed plans approved by Lufthansa last month to expand its own budget flight operations, saying the firm would still have a cost disadvantage, which meant it would not succeed. Lufthansa, which has been hit by a string of strikes by its pilots, is battling to compete with budget carriers on lucrative long-haul routes.
Ryanair has shifted strategy to be nicer to customers and is working to build out its network to include major airports to attract more of the higher-paying business customers who are Lufthansa’s core passengers.
Last month, a German magazine reported that Ryanair plans to expand to all large airports in the country except Frankfurt, including Lufthansa’s second biggest hub, Munich.
Shares in the Irish airline rose to an all-time high on Monday after passenger numbers surged for a second successive month and the budget airline’s expanding fleet had fewer empty seats than a year ago.
The airline reported a 20% year-on-year rise in passenger numbers for December, from just over five million to 6.02m users.