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Ireland's Ryanair's chief O'Leary out to wreck EU airline bailouts

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary is fighting the European Union over subsidies it plans to provide rival Lufthansa to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Bloomberg

20 May 2020 - 19:00

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary is fighting the European Union over subsidies it plans to provide rival Lufthansa to survive the Covid-19 pandemic, reports Bloomberg.

After opposing subsidies to other national carriers, Mr O'Leary is targetting Lufthansa as Germany and other states ready billions of euros to help the region's biggest airline overcome the worst slump in more than a century of commercial aviation.



'Lufthansa is going around hoovering up state aid like the drunken uncle at the end of a wedding, drinking from all the empty glasses. They can't help themselves,' Mr O'Leary said.



'We don't want state aid, but we're now being asked to compete with not one hand, but two hands tied behind our back,' he said.



As well as vowing to challenge the expected European Commission approval for the Lufthansa aid package, he said Ryanair would also seek to topple France's US$8 billion rescue package for Air France.



Dublin-based Ryanair has already sued the commission twice this month, challenging its approval of French tax breaks and Sweden's EUR455 million (US$491 million) loan guarantees for local airlines.



Mr O'Leary is a constant thorn in the side of the European Union regulators, fighting some 50 cases at the EU courts in the past 25 years. Most are lawsuits to overturn commission decisions. These include several EU orders against government subsidies to Ryanair as well as two EU vetoes to taking over Irish rival Aer Lingus.



While Lufthansa has benefited from Germany's furlough programme that pays workers' wages, it hasn't yet received state aid and has been embroiled in lengthy talks with the government to limit the size of a potential German stake. Belgium and Austria have also discussed state aid for the group's local units, while Switzerland has agreed to give support.


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