Cyprus Airways has huge legacy issues Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said on Monday. Therefore his company was not especially interested in acquiring the beleaguered Greek Cypriot national carrier, Reuters reports.
Last week, Ryanair was among nearly 20 companies which submitted a non-binding expression of interest in Cyprus Airways, which is now controlled by the Greek Cypriot government. The process is a preliminary step towards any eventual binding offer by any bidder.
“We are not particularly interested in Cyprus Airways which has huge legacy issues: pension scheme, historic losses (and) it looks like it may have to repay about 100 million in legal state aid,” O’Leary told reporters in London, after Ryanair released its quarterly results.
Ryanair had submitted an expression of interest in the carrier because the Cypriot government had asked them to, he added.
Cyprus Airways has struggled to keep going as it has had to compete with other operators offering cheaper flights. Despite several attempts to recover, the airline has been a loss-maker for years. It recently resorted to selling assets to stay afloat, including its slots at London’s Heathrow airport
The airline is also under scrutiny by the EU Commission in Brussels which is investigating the terms of a 31.3 million euro capital increase in early 2013, and a 73 million euro rescue package by the Cypriot state in 2012 to establish whether it violated state aid rules.
O’Leary said Ryanair was keen to develop its business in Cyprus, and was looking at how to develop markets in the Middle East, using Cyprus as a base.
“We’re happy to work with them on all of that,” said O’Leary, who has discussed expanding tourism with the government.