Low-cost airline Norwegian has hit back at Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary after he claimed it will “go bust” this winter.
A spokesman for the Scandinavian carrier accused Mr O’Leary of being a “broken record” and insisted his comments have “no root in reality”.
Norwegian has shaken up the long-haul market by offering flights at knockdown prices, with some of its most popular deals including £99 trips from Edinburgh and Dublin to New York.
But it has struggled to contain costs amid its rapid expansion, and had around £2 billion of net debt at the end of last year.
Mr O’Leary claimed he is “shocked it’s still flying as it loses heroic sums of money” and predicted it will “go bust this winter”.
He went on: “It deserves to go bust because frankly graveyards are full of airlines who had low fares and high costs.
“Ryanair is one of the few that has low fares and low costs.”
A Norwegian spokesman said: “These comments are from the same broken record and have no root in reality.
“Norwegian continues to fly an increasing number of passengers as we continue to focus on building a strong, sustainable and global business to benefit our customers, employees and shareholders.
“We’re focusing on our business and at this time Mr O’Leary should focus on Ryanair.”
In April British Airways owner IAG acquired a 5% stake in Norwegian with a view to starting takeover discussions.
Asked if Ryanair had any interest in making a move on the airline, Mr O’Leary replied that he “wouldn’t touch Norwegian with a barge pole”.