RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary has predicted his airline will become Europe’s only low-cost carrier, saying fares will only rise next year.
O’Leary believes the widening gap in airfares means rivals easyJet and Wizz are being targeted for takeovers by the majors, meaning they have a choice of budget airlines.
“Europe is definitely moving towards Ryanair having three very large, somewhat high-cost, high-cost connecting carriers and one very large low-cost carrier,” O’Leary said.
O’Leary also told the Guardian that air fares are likely to rise in the coming year unless Covid or war tensions stop people from traveling again.
He said that while Ryanair was growing, “competition is cutting capacity because of high oil prices.
“If capacity continues to decrease, fares will increase by another 5 to 10 percent.”
It’s a warning he’s already given this year. In September, he said lower prices were unlikely to return next year.
He then added: “Yes, the price will definitely increase.
“Higher oil prices mean they have to go up. Air fares will come under pressure in the summer of 2023.”
Meanwhile, O’Leary’s rivals say they don’t expect a takeover, which could keep prices down for now.
Wizz chief executive Joseph Varady, who has always insisted he can compete with Ryanair on price, said last week he did not see his airline as a takeover target.
EasyJet has also rejected a takeover offer, saying it was not a “realistic prospect”.
A spokesperson told simpleflying.com: “Millions of customers in Europe will be relieved to hear that Ryanair has no real hope of becoming Europe’s only low-cost airline.”
O’Leary said both rival airlines “will be merger and acquisition (M&A) candidates over the next two years” and their costs will continue to rise.
He continued: “They’re stuck in the average flight price, average cost space, and they can’t compete with us on cost and price.”
O’Leary praised easyJet for building a “fortress-like” position in expensive airports such as London Gatwick, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Geneva and Zurich.
But he said Ryanair was pressuring the British airline to offer fewer services to places like Italy and Portugal.
Wizz, O’Leary said, is that Ryanair is expanding into parts of central and eastern Europe, offering a smaller offering.
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