Ryanair’s maverick boss Michael O’Leary could launch a £2bn bid to buy Stansted Airport were the Competition Commission’s investigation recommend breaking up owner BAA.In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the outspoken Irishman said acquiring Stansted was one of his two main ambitions before he ever stepped down as chief executive of Ryanair - the other being the purchase of rival Irish airline Aer Lingus.
Mr O’Leary said he was convinced the Competition Commission’s investigation into Stansted owner BAA would recommend breaking up the airports operator.
He said: “We’d be in like a bandit. BAA knows we’re interested.”
Ryanair plans to ground 15 planes from its Stansted hub during the winter in protest over landing fees.
The relationship between Ryanair and BAA detiorated further this week. BAA announced that it is to sue the low-cost carrier over millions in unpaid landing fees. The announcement was followed the day after by Ryanair saying it was doubling its flights out of Luton as part of the shift away from Stansted.
BAA increased the fee levied on each departure and arrival at Stansted on 1 April 2008, rising from £5.50 per passenger to £5.88, an increase of 7 percent. However Ryanair reacted by saying it would not pay the higher charges at Stansted, arguing they were excessive.
Mr O’Leary believes the Commission could advocate that each of London’s three main airports - Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted - be owned separately. Just selling one, he claimed, would not address competition concerns.
Asked how much he would be willing to pay for Stansted, Mr O’Leary said: “Probably around £2bn. I’d take it up from 24m passengers today to more than 40m by halving landing fees for all.
“You could have a second runway for £150m and second terminal for £250m - instead of the £4bn Taj Mahal BAA’s planning.”