September 14, 2017 / 10:24 AM / 9 months ago

Ryanair CEO says in process of finalising Alitalia offer

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ryanair (RYA.I) is in the process of finalising a binding offer for Alitalia, which will see it keep the brand, long-haul operations but changing the fleet for short-haul routes, CEO Michael O’Leary said on Thursday.

A Ryanair aircraft taxis at Stansted airport, Britain April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

“We would have to order new planes, whether Boeing or Airbus,” O’Leary told Reuters, adding that Ryanair preferred to own its fleet, rather than lease planes, as Alitalia does.

An airplane of Alitalia approaches to land at Fiumicino international airport in Rome, central Italy, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Max Rossi

He said Ryanair hoped to preserve jobs for pilots and crew, although warned they would have to be on new terms in line with Ryanair’s cost base.

He added that Ryanair was not interested in bidding for Air Berlin (AB1.DE) because the process was not transparent, repeating previous accusations that it was a stitch-up designed to make Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) stronger.

He said he expected EU competition authorities would demand substantial remedies in the event Lufthansa buys Air Berlin, with the carrier likely to have to give up slots on routes within Germany to preserve competition.

Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Caroline Copley

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