Ryanair, which owns almost 30 per cent of Aer Lingus, has tried twice to take over its rival but has struggled to overcome opposition from the Irish government which holds a quarter of Aer Lingus.
“The government is broke now, it has to sell its holdings. In the end, it will sell Aer Lingus as well,” O’Leary said in an interview published in daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung yesterday.
Ireland said at the end of last month it could cost as much as €50bn (£44bn), or over €11,000 per head of a recession-weary population, to unwind years of reckless lending to developers during the “Celtic Tiger” boom.
“And I hope, we will buy [Aer Lingus],” O’Leary said, adding he would aim to expand Aer Lingus as quickly as possible following any deal.