Michael O’Leary pledges support for parallel runway, no trans-Atlantic venture for at least 5 years

  • Michael O’Leary pledges support for second runway
  • State should not be running bus companies

Michael O’Leary took himself to Marconi House to talk to another horse-racing aficionado Ivan Yates on Newstalk.

He pledged support for Dublin airport, with a predictable pre-requisite about cost. I am not sure we are getting close to top out in Dublin. Ryanair has delivered to 70pc of the growth over the past two years. It was the repeal of the travel tax in 2014 that kick started that growth. There is a limit to how many routes we can put into Dublin. Short haul travel is what delivers big travel numbers. A route to China is very sexy but that will deliver 400 passengers three times a week. It is micky mouse. We deliver more to Bournemouth. We need a second runway. We are back to the age old problem with the DAA every time they want to build something the money runs away for them. It was approved by the regulator €240. Now they say it has escalated into €320m without a sod being turned at a time when most of the inputs have fallen, they have inflated the cost by 20pc. It is a re-run of T2. We supported the original T2. T2 was supposed to cost €250m. It ended up costing €1.2bn. It is a badly designed building. They have al the shops there, but it has one finger with about ten stands. Now there is not enough stands to get the long haul aircraft on to it. It is in a cul de sac so you cannot expand. The runway would be built of r 250m. If there is a cost over-run the DAA should pay for it.

Cork and Shannon are in a difficult situation  we have a brilliant motorway network that serves Dublin. It is easier for people to drive from places in Tipperary and Waterford to get to Dublin. The real threat to Cork to Shannon and Knock is that they are now within two hours of Dublin airport. They will struggle on but there will not be dramatic growth there. All the growth will be allocated into Dublin.” 

If we had been allowed to buy Aer Lingus on the three times we offered previously we would probably have doubled Aer Lingus’s trans-Atlantic services by now. We would certainly have doubled passenger numbers. Aer Lingus does about 10m passengers a year. We now do that in a month.  Aer Lingus is a good airline. It does what it does. But it has no growth plans of any significance. If you are not going to allow Ryanair buy Aer Lingus IAG its probably your next best bet. The problem is that IAG will grow Aer Lingus’s trans-Atlanitc business reasonably slowly. They will add two ro three services a year. There is nothing happening on short haul because they cannot compete with us on price.”

As for Ryanair’s own trans-Atlantic plans. There is no availability of long haul aircraft and prices are high. The Gulf carriers have ordered most of the long haul aircraft deliveries until about 20202. We have postponed our trans-Atlantic plans for at least five years. We have ordered another 350 aircraft which means the Ryanair will grow from 90m passengers last year to 180m passengers annually over the next eight years.  I would like to see 10m of that traffic being allocated to Ireland, but only if there is a low cost runway developed here.

We just made a profit of €1.2bn when we paid $92 a barrel for oil but we fixed those hedges two years earlier. If I can lock away my costs, even at high prices, I am better off to do it. The good news is my costs fall to $60 a barrel this year. Which is why we are lowering the air fares for everybody, to my delight, by about 7pc. This year we will put another €150m into the pockets of our customers. We will carry 116m at an average fare that will be down around €42 which last year was about €45. When the French traffic controllers are not on strike, more people will fly with us at lower fares. This is where I am very critical of Europe. We have a single market that the French can shut down every time they go on strike. 

Talk quickly turned from baggage fees and his support for a parrallel runway at Dublin airport to tax (Michael has paid over €10m, the first time a figure has been mentioned) and Luas workers: “it takes two and a half nano seconds to learn how to drive a Luas tram. I would have sacked them all, they turned down 20pc for a job that is paying double that for a Blackpool tram driver.

I really misunderstand why we ever have a department of transport in this country, we’re a small population. We shouldn’t own the railway service we mismanage it, we shouldn’t own bus companies we gloriously mismanage those.

The Luas has been mishandled, it’s more public sector muddling through. I would have sacked the whole lot of them.””I would (have had an all-out strike). But that’s the best way of bringing these things to boil. You’ve had an all-out strike for about two weeks and then now lads you can come back, here’s the terms.

Listen here to Michael’s considerable views to brighten up your morning and listen here to his previous appearance on the executive chair.  Vincent Wall of Newstalk offered an alternative insightful piece about his battles with Michael O’Leary.

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