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Ryanair says rival needs a big shake up

BUDGET carrier Ryanair is willing to &ldquo;invest more money&rdquo; into Aer Lingus, but is unlikely to make a third bid for its rival, chief executive Michael O&rsquo;Leary said yesterday.<br /><br />The flamboyant boss, whose company is a 29 per cent shareholder in Aer Lingus, said the Irish airline will need major reorganisation.<br /><br />&ldquo;They will come to the existing shareholders. And that would be the government, the trade unions and Ryanair, presumably, to raise some more money,&rdquo; he said, speaking at Ryanair&rsquo;s annual meeting.<br /><br />O&rsquo;Leary added that his carrier had kept its forecast for full-year net profit towards the bottom of a &euro;200m (&pound;183m) to &euro;300m range, around double last year&rsquo;s profit.<br /><br />He is also considering breaking with tradition and paying out some of the airline&rsquo;s &euro;2.5bn cash pile to its shareholders in a one-off dividend, he said, as the carrier, renowned for its bargain basement flights, expects a strong rise in profits this year.<br /><br />But Ryanair, Europe&rsquo;s largest budget carrier, downplayed a move towards long-haul flights.<br /><br />O&rsquo;Leary said the airline was at least three or four years away from launching an associated long-haul airline because of the lack of affordable aircraft.<br /><br />&ldquo;While the market or orders for short-haul aircraft has collapsed for both Boeing and Airbus the long-haul order book has held up,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Leary said.<br /><br />Ryanair is still producing earnings growth, unlike rivals such as British Airways and Air France-KLM, but it has been forced to slash fares to fill planes as a global recession crimps consumer demand.<br /><br />Aer Lingus has rejected two takeover bids from Ryanair.<br />