Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has issued another sharp rebuke to chancellor Sajid Javid in the wake of the government’s rescue of Flybe, this time saying the UK’s business strategy is “doomed to fail”.
In a letter bound to further escalate the row between the two, O’Leary called the struggling regional airline a “loss-making turkey”.
He said the decision to defer Flybe’s air passenger duty tax was a result of being “blindsided” by the regional airline’s billionaire owners.
And he reiterated his claim that it amounted to a breach of state aid rules.
He said: “If the first critical business decision of your new Government is to bail out a loss-making turkey like Flybe, for the sole benefit of billionaires like Richard Branson, Delta Airlines, and Cyrus Capital, then your business strategy is doomed to fail.”
O’Leary was responding to a letter from Javid, who last week dismissed complaints that Flybe received unfair state aid.
Javid had said that the decision to defer Air Passenger Duty (APD) for Flybe was a “standard ‘Time to Pay’ arrangement…because of their short-term difficulties”.
The chancellor’s letter came after O’Leary threatened to sue the government over the matter.
This morning, O’Leary called the letter “both inaccurate and seriously misleading”.
“If these billionaire shareholders are not willing to put their hands in their own deep pockets to bail out the loss-making Flybe, then why is your Government and HMRC giving them a bail out?”
He reiterated his demand that Javid reduce air passenger duty for all airlines and passengers that use regional airports, including British Airways, Easyjet and Ryanair.
“If Richard Branson and his mates won’t lend £100m to Flybe, then why should the hard pressed British tax payer rescue them?”
He added that Branson was a “permanent Caribbean resident” who did not want to bail out Flybe because the regional airline was “doomed” on a business model of “very high fares” and “half empty turboprop aircraft”.
Branson’s Virgin Atlantic part owns Flybe.