Yesterday’s announcement that the Board of Ryanair had given provisional agreement to planning transatlantic services was actually rather meaningless. The timeframe of “four to five years” for starting flights is vague, they do not have aircraft on order and they would have to come to agreements with individual airports so the talk of “fourteen destinations” is rather premature.
Sooner or later, Ryanair will start services to the US. It is just too tempting. They might well lose money but will avoid making fools of themselves as Norwegian have done. I am sure they have been looking at the possibility of starting flights to the US for some years. One day they will but it might not be tomorrow, or even the day after.
So why the sudden announcement?
The Irish government appears to be very close to agreeing the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG. Ryanair remains a shareholder and has enjoyed being a thorn in the side of the Irish government. It looks as if it will finally be forced to sell its shareholding in the airline and will no doubt ensure it gets the best possible price. However, IAG wants Aer Lingus partly because of its transatlantic flights.
Yesterday’s announcement sounds rather an unsubtle way of saying “OK IAG, you can have our shares in Aer Lingus. We don’t want them anyway because we are starting our own flights to the US”.
That will allow any forced sale of shares by Ryanair to be presented as yet another triumph.