Keep waiting for that O’Leary transatlantic plan

For the most part it was business as usual at Ryanair’s press conference in London earlier this week – or usual bearing in mind its pretty much unlike any other airline press conference you will come across. There were calendar girls – there to mark the handing over of a cheque for £110,000 to UK children’s charity KIDS raised from the annual Ryanair cabin crew charity calendar. There was Michael O’Leary continuing his recent spat with easyJet and Stelios AB_MichaelO'Leary_099.jpg(this year’s Ryanair publicity alternative to charging for toilets appears to be attempts to set up a sumo wrestling bout between the two low-cost carrier icons in Trafalgar Square) and vowing to press ahead with the adverts which have prompted letters from Stelios’ lawyers. And there was the usual question about O’Leary and low-cost, long-haul…

…but here there was a slight difference. I think O’Leary has been asked the question of when this could happen at every single press conference of his I have been to since he first revealed his interest in a separate transatlantic operation during an interview with our sister publication Flight International back in April 2007. And O’Leary has consistently said such a project is reliant on securing enough long-haul aircraft at cheap enough prices, and that such an opportunity would not come until there was a deep recession. But now we have had a recession, how close to reality does a such plan look now?  Not very it seems. “It won’t happen for at least four to five years,” says O’Leary, given the manufacturers’ current backlog of widebody aircraft orders. As a result he sees little chance of striking the necessary bargin deal for aircraft, “not unless there is some radical change”.

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