Speaking to Sky News, Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, called the German airline group a “crack cocaine junkie” after the company asked for up to $10.8 billion (€10 billion) of state aid. Ryanair’s chief questioned why Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) would need more state aid for, as airlines “do not have many other costs at the moment,” because aircraft are grounded.
O‘Leary also added that the company is “off their heads” and assumed that they would “go around and buy everybody” when the crisis blows over.
The two executive teams have a tension-filled relationship. Back in July 2019, CEO of Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) , Carsten Spohr, publicly criticized Ryanair and easyJet over their “economically, ecologically and politically irresponsible” ticket prices. Ryanair responded with a banner on their German website, offering customers flights at “prices that Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) cannot offer.”
Virgin Group was also at the crosshairs of O’Leary. He harshly responded to the fact that Virgin Atlantic asked for state aid, calling “Branson’s [Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder – ed. note] second goal at trying to fleece the British taxpayer,” which he tried with Flybe, added the Irish executive.
“Frankly, if he’s worried about Virgin (VAH) , he should write the check himself,” O’Leary continued, “it is not like he is short of money.”
Delta Air Lines, which has a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic, ruled out injecting any additional cash into the United Kingdom-based airline. The former reported a $334 million loss in Q1 2020. Another Virgin Group airline, Virgin Australia, entered voluntary administration due to its debts, which is reported to be at $2.6 billion (AUD5 billion).