IRISH LOW-FARE airline Ryanair is in discussions with a major airline, thought to be British Airways, for the sale of a 25% stake. An announcement is possible within a month.

The move has taken observers by surprise, even though BA has been steadily building its franchise operations through connections with airlines such as CityFlyer, Brymon and Manx Airlines, and with stakes in French and German carriers.

Ryanair (owned by the Ryan family) may, however, be seeking a capital injection to finance future expansion and increase opportunities in the marketplace, which a link with a major airline could bring. British Airways would gain a low-cost entry into low-fare European operations, which many analysts believe will soon take off. Ryanair and BA decline to comment.

Ryanair UK has, meanwhile, postponed its planned flights into Europe from London Gatwick until 1997, says managing director Tim Jeans, because of its inability to secure at least two more Boeing 737-200s. Instead, it has leased two BAC One-Eleven 400s from European Aviation to build frequencies between London Luton, Cork and Knock, and will add new routes to Ireland from Leeds/Bradford, Cardiff and Bournemouth on 9 May (Flight International, 24-30 April).

A new interpretation of the extended cabotage rules by the UK Department of Transport has removed the urgency from Ryanair UK's application for an Air Operating Certificate to expand its intra-UK services from London Stansted. Ryanair can now offer 100% capacity on the four-times-daily Prestwick-Stansted leg.

Source: Flight International