Ryanair fights back

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Michael O�Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, usually described as �colourful�, does not mince his words. He accused the Transport Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio of trying to restore a �communist valhalla� of uniformly high air fares throughout Europe.

Mr O�Leary is going to the European Court of Justice to appeal against the Transport Commissioner�s ruling that the special deal Ryanair had done with Charleroi airport, near Brussels, (incidentally, allowing that airport to survive and turn in a profit) was a case of illegal subsidy. De Palacio also asserted that such a deal could not have been done with a private airport. Mr O�Leary described the ruling variously as �North Korean-style�, �asininely stupid� and, more succinctly, �bullshit�.

Ryanair, according to its chief executive has been inundated with offers from publicly and privately owned airports but fighting the Commission decision was a matter of principle. In his opinion, the Commission was acting against free competition and against the interests of providers and consumers of service. There was no question in his mind: a publicly owned company has the right to make the same sort of a deal as a privately owned one. And it is hard to understand what the Commission wants: for airports to use the subsidy to help keep fares high and undermine their own profits? Would that be a good way of using money?

So determined is Michael O�Leary to fight the case that he is ignoring the fall in his company�s share price.

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