Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has questioned British Airways’ latest proposals to establish a low-cost carrier at Gatwick Airport, claiming that Gatwick is completely the wrong airport to set up a new LCC. O’Leary commented today after details of British Airways’ proposals came out over the past few days.
Ryanair dismisses BA Gatwick plan
After stopping short-haul flights out of Gatwick Airport in April 2020, British Airways now plans to set up a low-cost subsidiary at the airport next year. Simple Flying explored BA’s Gatwick plans in more detail last week.
At a news conference in Brussels today, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said that he has little hope for BA’s low-cost venture at Gatwick, adding that it is London’s second most expensive airport.
O’Leary told Reuters,
“If you were going to open up a low-cost carrier, the one airport in London you wouldn’t go to would be Gatwick.”
O’Leary added that he believes BA would do much better to sell lucrative Gatwick slots to rivals like easyJet or Wizz Air rather than keep hold of them themselves. Additionally, O’Leary advises looking at other airports in London which offer more affordable availability.
“If you’re going to open up a low-cost carrier, you’d go to Stansted or Luton or Southend, which has lots of cheap, low-cost and underused facilities.”
Ryanair recovery looking strong
Speaking in Brussels today, Mr O’Leary sees a “very strong recovery” for European short-haul flights. Ryanair has slightly increased its passenger targets from its July forecast of 10 million per month, now expecting around 10.5 million passengers per month for September, October and November. The airline is also on target to exceed 10.5 million passengers flown in August.
“As long as there are no adverse COVID developments, things are set fair for a very strong recovery.”
While Ryanair forecasts a return to pre-COVID capacity for October, the airline expects to fly with an average of 15-20% empty seats over the winter period, compared to 7-8% pre-pandemic. Pricing will still be lower than pre-pandemic, with O’Leary expecting pricing to return to normal by the summer of 2022.
“Through the winter, pricing will continue to build, but it will still be below pre-COVID. We don’t expect pricing to go back to pre-Covid levels until the summer of 2022.”
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An upcoming MAX-10 order
O’Leary also added today that he expects Ryanair will make a significant order for the Boeing 737 MAX-10, although no agreement on pricing has been reached thus far.
The airline, currently the largest European customer for the 737 MAX-8 (210 firm orders), has hinted it will look to the larger MAX-10 once its MAX-8 order is complete in 2025.
Do you think Michael O’Leary is right about BA’s Gatwick proposals? What do you think about BA’s plans to set up a low-cost carrier at Gatwick? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.