Ryanair boss steps up attack on Aer Lingus

MICHAEL O’Leary, the chief executive of low-cost airline Ryanair, yesterday stepped up his attacks on Ireland’s national carrier Aer Lingus.

He called for the company to pay a special dividend to give them value for their investments.

In an open letter to the airline’s management, Ryanair – which owns 30 per cent of Aer Lingus – ridiculed a recent statement from the firm in which it said its objective was to “build durable value” for its shareholders. The letter said: “You reported cumulative losses of €154m (£133.8m) and exceptional provisions of almost €400m.

“You opened Belfast and Gatwick bases, only to later largely close them. You opened long-haul routes to San Francisco, Washington, Los Angeles and Dubai, only later to close them.

“Shareholders have no confidence in your claim that ‘our objective is to build durable value’ when almost all of your initiatives over the past five years have destroyed shareholder value.”

Ryanair has repeatedly tried to buy a larger stake in the Irish airline, but has always been rebuffed.

BA has been tipped as the most likely buyer of the Irish government’s 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.