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As Europe scrimps, budget airline Ryanair soars

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While the airline continues to expand in Europe, where it carried 48 million passengers in the year up to September, don’t expect Ryanair to turn its attention to the US for the moment.

“I think it's unlikely we will see a Ryanair transatlantic [service] for the next three or four years,” the airline’s famously bombastic chief executive, Michael O’Leary, told British broadcaster Sky News. Mr. O’Leary cited the reason as being a delay in the delivery of new, long haul aircraft.

However, many experts who have long been fascinated by the story of Ryanair – a 27-year-old start-up that was losing large sums of money as recently as the 1980s, until O’Leary turned it around by copying the low-cost characteristics of Dallas-based Southwest – suggest that future long-haul ambitions may be a factor in the company’s ongoing interest in buying its Irish rival Aer Lingus.

“If they do acquire Aer Lingus, they have this ready-made way of trying to launch a budget transatlantic services,” says Eleanor O’Higgins of the School of Business at University College Dublin, who has written a series of case studies on Ryanair.

Now in the midst of its third attempt to take over Aer Lingus, Ryanair this week cranked up its efforts by submitting proposals designed to alleviate European Commission concerns about competition being stifled.

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