LONDON – Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said on Monday that the airline was not particularly interested in acquiring troubled Cypriot carrier Cyprus Airways, which he said had huge legacy issues.
Ryanair was among nearly 20 companies which last week submitted a non-binding expression of interest in Cyprus Airways, now controlled by the Cypriot government.
The process is a preliminary step towards any eventual binding offer by any bidder.
“We are not particularly interested in Cyprus Airways which has huge legacy issues: pension scheme, historic losses (and) it looks like it may have to repay about 100 million in legal state aid,” O’Leary told reporters in London, after Ryanair released its quarterly results.
Ryanair had submitted an expression of interest in the carrier because the Cypriot government had asked them to, he added.
Cyprus Airways has struggled to survive against cheaper competitors and has been loss-making for years despite several attempts at a turnaround.
The airline has recently resorted to selling assets to stay afloat, including its slots at London’s Heathrow airport.
It is also under scrutiny by the European Commission. Brussels is investigating terms of a 31.3-million-euro capital increase in early 2013, and a 73-million-euro rescue package by the Cypriot state in 2012 to establish whether it violated state aid rules.
O’Leary said Ryanair was keen to develop its business in Cyprus, and was looking at how to develop markets in the Middle East, using Cyprus as a base. “We’re happy to work with them on all of that,” said O’Leary, who has discussed expanding Cypriot tourism with the government. [Reuters]