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Ryanair’s O’Leary claims rival Lufthansa ‘addicted’ to bailouts

written by Dylan Nicholson | May 27, 2020
The FAA has certified Boeing’s 747-8I, clearing the way for Boeing to begin deliveries of the jumbo jet to launch customer Lufthansa early next year. (Boeing)

Ryanair’s chief executive has slammed the German government’s decision to grant €9 billion ($9.88 billion) of aid to Lufthansa.

In a statement to the media, Michael O’Leary said, “Lufthansa is addicted to state aid. Whenever there is a crisis, Lufthansa’s first reflex is to put its hand in the German government’s pocket.”

The airline boss has previously called out state aid given to other airlines and is even launching legal action against some of the major benefactors.

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He has also vowed to challenge such “illegal state aid” claiming they unfairly damage competition within the industry helping unhealthy airlines at the detriment of more financially viable companies.

“Lufthansa claims it needs another € 9billion from the German government, €1 billion from the Swiss government, €800 million from the Austrian government, and €500 million from the Belgian government as it stumbles around Europe sucking up as much state aid as it can possibly gather,” the statement continued.

Ryanair believes that by “subsidising large German companies”, the national government is breaking European Union rules. As such, O’Leary has stated that his airline group will launch an appeal against what it calls “illegal state aid to Lufthansa”.

“Ryanair will appeal against this latest example of illegal state aid to Lufthansa, which will massively distort competition and [a] level playing field into provision of flights to and from Germany for the next five years.”

He also said the taxpayer-backed support package means Lufthansa will be able to sell seats at a loss affecting his company as it tries to compete in Germany.

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Lufthansa secured a rescue deal on Monday after weeks of discussions with the authorities in Berlin, who will take a 20 per cent stake in the company.

Last week, as Ryanair received around £600 million of assistance through the UK’s coronavirus loan scheme, O’Leary said he was in favour of state aid which is made available to all companies equally, such as furlough schemes, but was against specific support for individual carriers.

Air France also received a hefty bailout of approximately €7 billion to help it through the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

The inimitable Michael O’Leary (left) with Boeing’s CEO Ray Conner. (Boeing)

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