Ryanair’s O’Leary Calls Out Lufthansa For Being ‘Addicted’ To State Aid

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has called out the German government’s decision to grant €9 billion ($9.88 billion) of aid to Lufthansa. In a statement to the press, the low-cost carrier’s CEO said that Lufthansa was addicted to state aid.

Ryanair, Lufthansa, State Aid
Ryanair’s CEO has called Lufthansa out for being ‘addicted’ to state aid. Photo: Getty Images

Lufthansa yesterday announced the completion of a deal with the German government for €9 billion worth of state aid under the country’s economic stabilization fund. While undoubtedly great news for the German flag carrier, other airlines such as Ryanair may disagree.

State aid condemned

One of the parties not happy with the grant is Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, who recently likened the German flag carrier to a drunk uncle at a wedding. The airline has previously called out state aid given to other countries. Indeed, it is even launching legal action against some of these state handouts.

Ryanair believes that the funding provided to Lufthansa will “further strengthen Lufthansa’s monopoly-like grip on the German air travel market.” The airline goes on to say that Lufthansa will be able to sell short-haul intra-EU flights for less than they cost. They add that this will put British Airways, easyJet, and themselves at a disadvantage.

Ryanair, Limited Network, New Routes
Ryanair is currently operating a skeleton service of essential flights. Photo: Getty Images

Addicted to state aid?

Today Ryanair’s CEO 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… Lufthansa claims it needs another €9bn from the German Govt, €1bn from the Swiss Govt, €800m from the Austrian Govt, and €500m from the Belgian Govt as it stumbles around Europe sucking up as much State Aid as it can possibly gather.”

However, O’Leary didn’t stop at the German carrier. He also aimed at the German government, calling them “ironic.” He justified this by saying that the German government “lectures all other EU countries about respecting EU rules.”

Ryanair, easyjet, Peter Bellew
O’Leary said Ryanair would appeal the “illegal” aid. Photo: Getty Images

An appeal will come

Ryanair believes that by “subsidizing large German companies”, the German 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”.

It won’t be the first time since the start of the current crisis that Ryanair has kicked off about state aid. Indeed, in early May, we reported that the Irish low-cost carrier was seeking to have the European Commission’s approval of Swedish state aid for airlines reversed.

Meanwhile, on May 18th, it was revealed that Ryanair itself had received £600m (about $730 million) from the United Kingdom’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

Ryanair previously revealed a list of other airlines that had received state aid. Indeed, Lufthansa was quite late to the party in terms of securing its package. To date (as of May 18th), according to Ryanair’s figures, Lufthansa has received the most ‘unlawful state aid’:

Lufthansa Group€12.4bn plus ($13.7bn)
Air France-KLM Group€10.1bn plus ($11.1bn)
Alitalia€3.5bn plus ($3.9bn)
TUI Group€1.8bn plus ($2.0bn)
SAS€0.8bn plus ($0.9bn)
Finnair€0.7bn plus ($0.8bn)
Norwegian€0.3bn plus ($0.3bn)

What do you make of O’Leary’s latest comments? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!