Leasing Agreement Ryanair's O'Leary Talks Tough on German Airline Deal

The outspoken CEO of Europe's biggest budget airline puts his money where his mouth is, promising legal proceedings on the Lufthansa-Air Berlin tie-up.
Quelle: dpa
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary presenting new flights to Scotland in February.
(Source: dpa)

The chief executive of Europe's leading low-cost carrier has taken another step in his attack on the Lufthansa-Air Berlin deal. In an interview with Handelsblatt's sister publication WirtschaftsWoche, Ryanair's audacious boss promised to further his complaints to European Union authorities.

Low-cost carrier Air Berlin, a competitor of Ryanair, announced in September it would lease 40 crewed planes to Germany's flagship carrier. Mr. O'Leary, well known for his sharp tongue, has accused the airlines of sealing up the German market. In January, he told news agency Reuters the agreement was "nothing other than a takeover" and a "joke."

According to the plan, part of the airline would be rented out to Lufthansa’s budget subsidiary, Eurowings. Mr. O'Leary told WirtschaftsWoche the deal was "a takeover with the aim of dominating the market. Lufthansa controls the capacities of its most important competitor, sets the prices and decides where aircraft will start."

The CEO was particularly critical of Germany's Federal Cartel Office. "The German authorities are doing nothing," he said.

Ryanair recently announced it would discontinue plans to start flying trans-Atlantic, but Mr. O'Leary said he hasn't given up the long-haul dream just yet. Finding "appropriate aircraft" is still a defining issue.

"For low-operating costs, we need a fleet of technically identical jets and not a zoo of different models where every second switch works differently," said the CEO.

The new Boeing 787 could be the answer, and Mr. O'Leary explained he has his sights on purchasing 100 of the aircraft.

"When I think of the 787 and its low cost, I get wet dreams," he said.