herald

Monday 18 December 2017

We blundered over €15 US routes, says O'Leary

ANY prospect of €15 transatlantic Ryanair flights have been grounded for the foreseeable future after the airline made an embarrassing U-turn.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary admitted the company "f****d up" a statement issued to the stock exchange saying its board had not approved a service to the US.

Just two days earlier it had been announced that flights to 14 US airports in the States by the end of the decade had been signed off on by the board.

Mr O'Leary described the original statement as "a miscommunication".

It is understood Ryanair still intends to eventually launch a transatlantic service, but will do so using a subsidiary or a completely separate business in which it might have a majority stake.

Earlier this week, the airline said it was already talking to manufacturers about buying planes to serve new routes between European airports and US.

Mr O'Leary has long spoken about his desire for Ryanair to carry passengers across the Atlantic.

But the company is understood to have struggled to find a way to make it pay.

blunder

Last night, Ryanair issued a one-line statement saying no transatlantic plan had been approved by its board - and nor would it be.

Financial analysts described the blunder as a serious misstep for the airline.

"It's a bit of a PR faux-pas," said David Holohan, the head of research at stockbroking firm Merrion Capital.

"They usually tend to have quite a good grasp of what they should be saying."

It's not clear precisely how the cock-up emerged, but Monday's statement appears to have been prompted by a follow-up question from the media on foot of an interview earlier that day by Ryanair's chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs.

Ryanair said in a statement last night: "In the light of recent press coverage, the board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so."

Now it is understood that while Ryanair still intends to launch a transatlantic service, it will not do so using its own name.

Instead, a separate company will have to be set up as a standalone business.

hnews@herald.ie

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