PARIS: Ryanair targets Germany but rules out Russia

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Growth in the German market is firmly in Ryanair's sights as the Irish low-cost carrier bids to boost passenger numbers beyond 100 million per annum by 2020 - but chief Michael O'Leary is ruling out new routes to Russia, for now.

Speaking at the Paris air show, O'Leary noted "much more competition in the German market", but added that it was "stymied" by "very high-fare carriers" Lufthansa and Air Berlin". This, he says, "means more good news for German provincial airports" with which Ryanair is in talks as it bids to add new bases in the nation.

In further digs at the two German rivals, O'Leary says: "I think Lufthansa might be having its fifth go at launching a low-cost subsidiary." He is dismissive of Germanwings' rebranding. "Lower-case lettering: all the engineers in Frankfurt think that that's what a low-fare airline looks like," he quips.

And Air Berlin, he suggests, "continues to strive forward by getting smaller".

Ryanair is meanwhile reluctant to fly to Russia until that nation joins the European open-skies agreement. "There are considerable regulatory hurdles over there, which frankly are just a pain in the arse," says O'Leary.

While Ryanair could fly to Russia from Ireland - perhaps even within five years, on a small scale - O'Leary's notional list of his top 200 new route possibilities would not include Dublin-St Petersburg or Dublin-Moscow, he says.