Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary says he will step down in future

Michael O'Leary, CEO of Ryanair

Ryanair is shifting away from its famous rock-bottom fares, according to Michael O’Leary, the carrier’s chief executive officer.

The Dublin-based airline, known for being a no-frills, low-cost airline, has grown substantially under O’Leary’s 16-year run at the helm and is now carrying 73.5 million passengers a year.

O’Leary says the airline cannot sustain the ultra-cheap average fare of around $50. As Ryanair moves from secondary to major airports in an effort to gain more customers, the airline will face more costs. It is also under pressure to improve levels of service.

"We have to move away over the next number of years from being obsessed with having the lowest fares in the market," said O'Leary.

The 49-year-old also said that, as the company matures and growth slows, it would need a new chief executive. O’Leary, who is known for his controversial management style, said he won’t step down until Ryanair nearly doubles in size.

"When we are twice the size we are now, at around 400 aircraft, then the growth rate slows down to 2% or 3% per year. The shareholders will want a return. You will need a different management then. We won't need my dog and pony show, which is about generating publicity. Every company has to move from being the high-growth Robin Hood, “ O’Leary said.

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