RYANAIR'S boss yesterday doubled down on his point that rivals Easyjet and Wizz Air will not survive as independent airlines without a merger.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said it would be a "sensible development" for his rivals to merge in the future and there was industry-consensus there would be "more consolidation across Europe" post-Covid-19.
"I'm not sure if Wizz or Easyjet can survive as independent airlines because they're not able to compete with Ryanair on cost," O'Leary said, speaking on Sky News.
If they did not merge together, they were likely to merge with other airlines, the CEO added.
"(It is) complete nonsense," EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren shot back at his Irish rival later in the day: "I would urge anyone who runs an airline to focus on their own business rather than speculate about others, (where) they have no idea about what's going on."
He said Easyjet was not opposed in principle to consolidation carried out in the form of external transactions.
"We are not against any M&A type of activity but it needs to be able to deliver value for shareholders and to deliver a reason to believe in a successful outcome," he said.
Lundgren was asked whether the airline saw itself as a buyer in any future shake-out of the European industry. "We would be looking at companies, as I am sure companies would be looking at us. There is no drama around that at all," he said.
Easyjet rejected a takeover approach from Wizz Air that would have created a low-cost airline to rival Ryanair, opting instead to raise $1.7bn from shareholders.
"It's like a family or a marriage, we differ from time to time," Ryanair's O'Leary said yesterday.
He said the most important thing was "good, healthy competition" as it results in customers getting the best deal.
The airline had seen "extraordinary" numbers of bookings to popular destinations including the Canary Islands and Portugal for the October half-term.
O'Leary welcomed a simplification of international travel rules, after ministers scrapped the travel light system for different countries.
(c) 2021 City A.M., source Newspaper