Ryanair set to make of­fer for Ital­ian air­line Al­i­talia

Belfast Telegraph - - BUSINESS - BY JOHN MUL­LI­GAN

RYANAIR boss Michael O’Leary has con­firmed his com­pany in­tend­sto­sub­mitabind­ing­bid­for Ital­ian air­line Al­i­talia — in­clud­ing its long-haul op­er­a­tions — in what would be a sig­nif­i­cant strate­gic shift for the car­rier.

Mr O’Leary said yes­ter­day that if Ryanair was suc­cess­ful with its bid, which is due by Oc­to­ber 2, it would re­tain the Al­i­talia brand and its long-haul op­er­a­tions, but would change the own­er­ship struc­ture of the com­pany’s short-haul fleet, which is cur­rently leased.

Ryanair op­er­ates an al­most en­tirely owned fleet of Boe­ing 737 air­craft.

It runs 13 routes out of Belfast In­ter­na­tional Air­port and is one of about 10 air­lines and groups that in July sub­mit­ted non-bind­ing agree­ments to Al­i­talia’s ad­min­is­tra­tor to buy the ail­ing car­rier or parts of it.

Other bid­ders in­clude easy­Jet, Aer Lin­gus owner IAG, Delta and Air France.

Al­i­talia col­lapsed into ad­min­is­tra­tion in May.

At the time the non-bind­ing agree­ment was sub­mit­ted, Ryanair chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Neil So­ra­han said that Al­i­talia would need to be “rad­i­cally over­hauled” be­fore the busi­ness would get in- volved with it. Speak­ing in Ber­lin yes­ter­day, Mr O’Leary con­firmed that Ryanair was plan­ning on re- tain­ing Al­i­talia’s long-haul busi­nes­sandthe­bran­difthe­bid­was suc­cess­ful.

Two weeks ago Mr O’Leary Ryanair would likely op­er­ate 90 Al­i­talia jets un­der the air­line’s liv­ery.

The Ir­ish car­rier is un­able to take over all of the com­pany be­cause such a move would be blocked on com­pe­ti­tion grounds.

Ryanair was re­cently thwarted in ef­forts to get in­volved in the carve-up of failed car­rier Air Ber­lin.

News of the im­pend­ing bid came as Ryanair in­sisted that a rul­ing by the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice (ECJ) yes­ter­day would not change the po­si­tion of thou- sands of crew mem­bers who work for the car­rier un­der Ir­ish con­tracts and would not hit its cost base.

The ECJ ruled in a case re­lated to six Ryanair work­ers based in Bel­gium that a ju­ris­dic­tion clausethat­sought­to­pre­ven­tem­ploy­ees from bring­ing pro­ceed­ings be­fore courts out­side Ire­land was not en­force­able against those em­ploy­ees.

It ef­fec­tively means that Ryanair crew can have dis­putes re­gard­ing em­ploy­ment con­tracts held in the coun­try where they ha­bit­u­ally carry out their work, ratherthaninIre­land,the­coun­try where the con­tracts are drafted.

Bid: Michael O’Leary

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