Following reports of a board-level divergence of opinion, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has confirmed the carrier's vision of a transatlantic low-cost long-haul operation, despite the plan being dependent on whether the European Union/US Open Skies agreement “is implemented effectively across Europe”.

Speaking at last month's French Connect conference in Nantes, France, Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley was quoted as saying that O’Leary’s revelations were “a public relations stunt”.

But according to’s sister on-line publication Air Transport Intelligence, he also said that there is "an opportunity there" for a long-haul low-cost airline, but the opportunity does not exist "in the short-term".

Ryanair W445

O’Leary has since told Flight International that Cawley’s message is the same as his, explaining: “Michael Cawley gave a 40 minute presentation to the French Connect Conference in Nantes.

“He quite correctly pointed out that any long-haul, low fares airline would not be connected to Ryanair, would not happen in the short-term, but was a long-term opportunity.

“This reflects the key points of the discussions we had in Dublin recently. His message was consistent with mine.

“Remember my caution that nothing would happen unless Open Skies is actually implemented effectively across Europe unless/until then there is a major downturn in the industry which creates an opportunity to acquire a fleet of long-haul aircraft cheaply.

“As you know the jury is out on both of these counts currently.”