Ryanair’s O’Leary warns of rising risk of no-deal Brexit

Potential for chaos warns O'Leary
Potential for chaos warns O'Leary

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has warned of a rising risk of a no-deal Brexit and claimed the Irish border backstop was “undeliverable”.

Mr O’Leary predicted potential political “chaos” in Britain and said if the UK crashed out, flights would need to be cancelled a month in advance of next March’s withdrawal.

“We are selling tickets between the UK and Europe ... on flights that may not take place.”

Ireland believes last December’s agreement in principle between the UK and EU will keep Northern Ireland within the EU’s regulatory arrangements if negotiations fail.

Mr O’Leary focused on Britain’s role in the negotiations, rather than Ireland’s. He has been strongly critical of Brexit.

He thought a deal would be done eventually but reiterated that there was a real danger of no-deal by omission.

Risk factors included if Theresa May was replaced as Prime Minister, or a general election was called.

“There is a rising risk, if the deal is not done by about November then, frankly, it will not get done at all.

“Doing a deal is going to be very difficult.”

Mr O’Leary expressed concern about the Irish border.

“The backstop agreement is undeliverable, there is no way you can deliver a frictionless border if you are leaving a common market - it is not deliverable.”

He added: “There are going to be real and serious consequences, both in the UK economy and in the European economy.

“From my narrow perspective all I want to see is a continuation of open skies and free flights, cheap flights.”

The British cannot deliver what they have proposed unless they have a border down the Irish Sea, he said.

“It is not Leo (Varadkar), it is not the Irish Government’s challenge to come up with a resolution, it is the British Government’s.”

Mr O’Leary addressed other challenges ahead for the airline - including costs.

He said: “Oil is still going to be the most significant cost for every airline, but I would like to see oil prices go higher this winter because I think it would speed up the inevitable bankruptcy of a number of other European airlines.

“It would create more opportunity for us to grow.”