Ryanair will never run flights to the US, reveals chairman
Ryanair will never operate transatlantic flights, the airline’s billionaire chairman David Bonderman has insisted.
“We have no interest in flying transatlantic,” he told shareholders at the airline’s annual general meeting at Dublin Airport yesterday.
Ryanair also announced that it intends to return €398m in proceeds from the sale of its near 30pc stake in Aer Lingus to shareholders before the end of the calendar year. It sold the shares to IAG, which has acquired the former state-owned carrier.
Mr Bonderman’s seemingly definitive comment comes despite chief executive Michael O’Leary saying a low-cost transatlantic service would be a medium-term aim.
Mr Bonderman is the co-founder of US private equity giant TPG, formerly Texas Pacific Group. He and TPG backed Ryanair in 1996, the year before it floated on the stock exchange.
Mr O’Leary has always stressed that a transatlantic service would be a separate business to Ryanair, unlikely to even use the Ryanair brand.
He has also said that launching it would be dependent on securing long-haul aircraft at cheap prices – something that is impossible at the moment due to bulging order books at both Airbus and Boeing.
In January, Mr O’Leary said he would be disappointed if the low-cost long-haul service would not be able to offer one-way fares to the US from Europe for an average of under €100.
He said the aim of the service would be to fly from about 15 European cities to 15 US cities.
Mr O’Leary said yesterday that Ryanair’s previous aim of trying to buy Aer Lingus was not to secure ownership of its long-haul operations.
“Aer Lingus’ long-haul was the bit we were least interested in,” he said. “The attraction nine years ago was to use it to serve primary airports in
Europe. We’re now doing it with Ryanair.”