Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has expressed scepticism about the European Commission's tentative probe into competitive conditions in the engine and component MRO markets.

During a Ryanair briefing in London today, O'Leary alluded to the stance taken by IAG chief executive Willie Walsh, who earlier this year complained about maintenance costs being driven by a limited number of suppliers.

"I think there's enough OEMs out there," says O'Leary. "It's very interesting: every time Willie is unhappy about something, it becomes a big cause celebre in Brussels. BA was the original great monopolist: they were never unhappy when they had a monopoly over high fares to and from Heathrow, they were never unhappy when they had a monopoly here in the London system… when [airports operator] BAA was still the great British monopoly screwing everybody."

O'Leary adds: "We’ve a bigger fleet of engines, for example, than BA… We've no difficulty in securing maintenance."

Of the European Commission's new aviation strategy, set to be published imminently, O'Leary is similarly dismissive. "I suspect there'll be no advantage for Ryanair; I'm fairly sure there’ll be no advantage for any consumer. I think there'll be a lot of waffle and spin, mostly about protecting producer monopolies, like pilots working even fewer hours in the year, or parliament will come up with even crazier ideas on compensation that will ultimately add to the cost of air travel but will do nothing for competition."

Identifying trade unions as "the producer monopolies I'd be most concerned about", O'Leary argues: "Unions are the people who are holding up the single European sky; the unions are the people who continue to bedevil our industry with air traffic control delays at every hand's turn.

"It's not just when the French and Spanish go on strike: it's that on Saturday morning they don't show up for work."

O'Leary goes on to bemoan the level of influence he believes is exerted on the European Commission by organised labour. "You have the Commission talking about competitiveness, having a more competitive European aviation scene. Then they spend all day talking about social contracts, social consciences… and all the other crap cooked up by unions which involve, usually, doing less work for more money and getting the consumer to pay. Which is why Lufthansa and Air France are struggling with really crazy unions who think that they're owed a job."

Source: Cirium Dashboard