Ryanair slams Flybe bailout and demands same 'tax holiday' for other airlines

Ryanair has hit out at the Government’s “badly-thought out bailout” of struggling Flybe and demanded the same “tax holiday” for other airlines.

Earlier this week, the Government announced it will review air passenger duty (APD) on domestic routes among other measures in an effort to help struggling airline Flybe.

This prompted the owner of British Airways to file a complaint with the European Commission over the government bailout after its boss branded it a "blatant misuse of public funds".

British Airways and Aer Lingus owner International Airlines Group (IAG) has written to the Government accusing it of a "lack of transparency" and asking for further details on its involvement in rescuing rival airline Flybe, in a Freedom of Information request seen by PA.

And now Ryanair has added its voice against the Government "subsidy" for Flybe, claiming it "cannot comply with competition and state aid laws" and called on Chancellor Sajid Javid to extend the tax holiday to Ryanair's own business and its rivals.

In an open letter, the airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary says: “As one of the UK's largest passenger airlines, we are deeply concerned and shocked by reports of your government's bailout of Flybe this week, which distorts fair competition between airlines, clearly constitutes illegal State Aid, and represents a badly thought out bailout of a chronically loss-making airline model in the UK.”

He adds Flybe has been “refinanced numerous times” over the past 20 years “for the sole benefit of its billionaire owners”, which he names as Delta Airlines, Sir Richard Branson and Cyrus Capital.

“Unlike Flybe, we all operate profitable business models (without the benefit of being owned by billionaires like Richard Branson, Delta Airlines and Cyrus Capital), and we must be treated the same as Flybe if fair competition is to exist between all airlines operating to and from the UK,” he added.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said on Wednesday: "The actions we have taken will support and enhance regional connectivity across the UK so local communities have the domestic transport connections they rely on.

"Any changes implemented as a result of our reviews of air passenger duty and regional connectivity will apply to all airlines in the competitive aviation market."