Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair will not make an offer for assets of insolvent German airline Air Berlin , its Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on Wednesday, citing what he called a 'stitch-up' bidding process. Kate King reports
Ryan Air's CEO Michael O'Leary happy to play up for the cameras. But that's where the joking about ended ... well sort of. SOUNDBITE (English) RYAN AIR CEO, MICHEAL O'LEARY SAYING: "We think obviously the, oh god, give me it again, the deal between Lufthansa the German Goverment and Air Berlin is not just in breech of German competition rules, it also flys in the face of European competition rules." Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection this month following years of losses. The country's flagship carrier, Lufthansa, is circling around the crumbs. It's bid for the most attractive parts of the business - including long haul aircrafts and the some of the international routes which come with it. Rival Ryanair has called the deal a 'stitch up' suggesting it's designed to strengthen the German carrier, and reeks of political meddling. SOUNDBITE (English) RYAN AIR CEO, MICHEAL O'LEARY SAYING: "We asked the question why did Air Berlin which is controlled by Lufthansa, trigger the bankruptcy of Air Berlin at a time of the year when even Air Berlin has cash, and we think it is clearly driven by the fact the German election is in September." Ryanair says it would have bid on the aircraft and sought after landing slots if the process was handled by a court appointed bankruptcy administrator. Instead it's called on the EU commission to prohibit the merger, and appealed to Germans directly too. SOUNDBITE (English) RYAN AIR CEO, MICHEAL O'LEARY SAYING: "You will all be paying much higher airfares for the next five, ten, 15 20 years to pay for Lufthansa's acquisition of Air Berlin. And there are other options out there." As many as six other bidders are in the race, but Lufthansa's nose remains firmly in front. If the buy-up was to go ahead O'Leary says it would see Lufthansa grow its domestic market share to 90 percent, while grabbing as much as 60 percent of the total market to and from Germany.