Reports are circulating that Ryanair is threatening to ground its fleet after the UK departs the European Union to drive voters to “rethink” Brexit.
The carrier’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Leary, indicated that he wants to “create an opportunity” by making people come to the realization that they are “no longer going to have cheap holidays.”
“I think it’s in our interests – not for a long period of time – that the aircraft are grounded,” the Ryanair boss told the gathered audience composed of airline leaders at the Airlines for Europe (A4E) summit in Brussels.
“It’s only when you get to that stage where you’re going to persuade the average British voter that you were lied to in the entire Brexit debate.
“You were promised you could leave the EU and everything would stay the same. The reality is you can leave the EU, yes that’s your choice, but everything will fundamentally change,” O’Leary continued.
O’Leary has been very vocal in warning about the “real crisis” as flights between the UK and WU are interrupted after Brexit.
“When you begin to realize that you’re no longer going to have cheap holidays in Portugal or Spain or Italy, you’ve got to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland as your only holiday options, maybe we’ll begin to rethink the whole Brexit debate,” said O’Leary.
“They were misled and I think we have to create an opportunity.”
Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr also chimed in:
“In theory, if we could use this industry to prove to the British how wrong the decision was, that might be a good thing.”
O’Leary has never wavered in warning that airlines would be driven to cancel post-Brexit services from March 2019 if no agreement is reached in negotiations by September, because schedules are planned roughly six months in advance.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, said back in January that he is confident flights would not be grounded because “it’s in the interests of everyone” to keep the open market for aviation.
In a related development, industry association Airlines UK is also confident that a new transatlantic open skies agreement would be inked to keep flights in the air after Brexit.
Chief Executive Tim Alderslade said:
“UK airlines fully expect that the UK and US Governments will sign an open and liberal agreement – including on ownership and control – that will allow UK carriers to continue to serve the US following our departure from the EU.
“Separately, airlines will continue to support ministers in reaching a deal with the EU that is in everyone’s interest – providing for open competition between carriers and as liberal ownership and control rules as possible.
“As the Chancellor set out, we also want to see an agreement on the implementation phase agreed as early as possible and ideally at the March Council.
“It is essential that clarity can be provided to both consumers and airlines through to at least December 2020.
“Subsequently, agreement is vital on a comprehensive EU-UK aviation agreement that protects market access to, from and within the EU and – like other air services agreements – can be split off from the main trade deal.
“Further clarity from the government on its negotiating stance – over and above the extremely positive statement made last week by the prime minister on the UK wishing to remain a member of the European Aviation Safety Agency and wanting a continuation of air services – would be welcome also.”