Bloomberg News

Ryanair CEO Says Don’t Hold Your Breath on Stelios’s Fastjet

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Ryanair Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said that erstwhile rival Stelios Haji-Ioannou may struggle to repeat his success with EasyJet Plc should he start another airline.

“If he were to set up a airline in Europe this time around it would be much more difficult now because Ryanair is much larger than when he set up EasyJet and EasyJet is much larger,” O’Leary said today at a shareholders’ meeting in Dublin. “All he has done so far is set up one page on the Internet. I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

Stelios, who goes by his first name, told EasyJet this week that he intended to found a new airline called Fastjet. The entrepreneur, EasyJet’s largest shareholder, has been in a dispute with EasyJet’s management over their expansion plans for about three years.

Stelios declined to respond to O’Leary’s remarks or comment on plans for Fastjet, Angharad Couch, a spokeswoman for Stelios, said today. Stelios founded EasyJet in 1995, a year after O’Leary took over as Ryanair CEO, offering flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh from London Luton airport. The airline now carries more than 50 million passengers a year with a fleet of more than 200 airplanes and bases throughout Europe.

EasyJet last week raised its guidance for full-year earnings to 240 million pounds ($376 million) to 250 million pounds, as demand for business travel and short-break travel boosted sales.

O’Leary told reporters today that he was sticking to the company’s 400 million-euro ($545 million) target given July 25 for full-year net income, though there is the possibility of a “slight upgrade.”

Ryanair rose 0.4 percent to 3.275 euros at 3:35 p.m. in Dublin trading. The carrier has fallen 13 percent this year, making it the best performer in the six-company Bloomberg EMEA Airlines Index and giving it a market value to 4.8 billion euros.

--Editors: Robert Valpuesta, Chad Thomas.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steve Rothwell in London at srothwell@bloomberg.net; Finbarr Flynn at fflynn3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net


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