13 January 2015
Ryanair plans to continue with its plans to expand in Cyprus even though the national airline for which it was bidding has been grounded. The Irish airline was shortlisted as a possible bidder for Cyprus Airways in November, but the flag carrier has been closed down because it could not comply with an European Commission demand that it repay €65 million in illegal state aid to its government.
According to Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, the Irish company plans to press ahead with plans to apply to the Cypriot government for an airline operator’s certificate (AOC), which would open up new markets in the region such as Israel, Turkey and possibly parts of the Middle East.
“We are still interested in applying for an AOC in Cyprus,” he said.
The eastern Mediterranean is one of three areas the airline is eyeing for growth, along with Germany and Scandinavia.
Ryanair expects a ruling shortly on its challenge to a UK regulator’s attempts to force it to cut its stake in Aer Lingus to 5 per cent from 29.8 per cent. The airline last year challenged in the British court of appeal a UK competition and markets authority ruling that it sell down its Aer Lingus stake.
Mr Jacobs said Ryanair believed the court could rule on its challenge this week. Any verdict is likely to result in further appeals to the UK’s supreme court. Ryanair has already said that it would challenge any finding upholding the competition watchdog’s ruling, while Aer Lingus is likely to appeal if the court says its rival should not have to sell. Aer Lingus has already turned down two approaches from BA’s parent, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) valuing it at €2.30 a share and €2.40 a share. Ryanair expects IAG to make a further bid for Aer Lingus. Mr Jacobs argued that the Republic’s flag carrier is ultimately going to need a partner.