Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary: Don’t give airlines bailout

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has said the Government should not give airlines a bailout to survive the lockdown – despite rivals’ pleas for further state aid.

Last week, the industry body that represents Britain’s major airlines asked the Chancellor for a ‘comprehensive’ support package, including grants or loans.

But O’Leary told The Mail on Sunday that airlines should ‘rely on their own cash reserves and their shareholders to get through the pandemic. Ryanair doesn’t believe there should be any further financial support, other than the furlough scheme, for airlines and airports.’

Plea: Michael O’Leary, with wife Anita, said airlines should use their own reserves

O’Leary said British Airways owner IAG and easyJet had shown they could draw on their own reserves to survive. But easyJet said direct financial support for the sector is ‘urgently needed’, and that it is in ‘regular contact with the Government’.

Crawley MP Henry Smith – chairman of the Future of Aviation Group which is backed by airport operators and airlines – said he will meet Ministers on November 19 to push for further financial support and a pre-departure testing programme.

O’Leary conceded the ‘draconian’ lockdown meant he could not rule out making further UK job cuts.

He called for an end to travel or quarantine bans for those ‘who can demonstrate a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departure’.