photo by lorenteyEuropean budget airline Ryanair head Michael O'Leary might have a history of making rather outlandish statements, and the announcement that he made this morning that Ryanair is "seriously interested" in taking over Lufthansa is no exception. According to an orf.at article, Ryanair "could almost buy [Lufthansa] in cash," according to O'Leary. This statement has been backed up over at the Financial Times, which also reports that O'Leary plans on expanding Ryanair's fleet by 15% and that the airline has 90% of the year's fuel hedged at $62 a barrel. According to financial results released on Ryanair's website today, Ryanair now is the largest airline in Europe by both traffic and market capitalization (€5.3 billion vs. €4.5 billion for second-place Lufthansa).
Lufthansa declined to comment on O'Leary's comments, although shares of the airline were trading higher on the Frankfurt stock exchange. And while I suppose that a takeover of Lufthansa could never be ruled out totally, I'm inclined to believe that O'Leary, being the king of free media attention, is just up to his usual tactics of getting some press coverage (or maybe even distract the media a bit from its announcement this morning of a lowered profit this year). A Ryanair takeover of Lufthansa just isn't realistic.