Ryanair boss predicts 'fare wars' in airlines' battle for the skies
Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has predicted the "mother and father" of all fare wars this winter as airlines prepare pitched battles to control Europe's skies.
Ryanair and Aer Lingus are already squaring up for a showdown at Dublin as British Airways owner IAG takes full control of the former flag carrier.
Other airlines in Europe - spurred by low fuel prices and increased demand as economies improve - are also expected to join the pan-continental fray.
"There is rumoured to be a fare war coming this winter and I can confirm that all those rumours are absolutely correct," said Mr O'Leary in London as the carrier launched its new Ryanair Car Hire service, a new partnership with Cartrawler.
The Irish technology firm, which was sold outright last year by its founders and a private equity firm for €450m (£327m), will help Ryanair offer its flyers a direct connection to 1,500 car rental agents in over 30,000 locations in 174 different countries.
Ryanair Car Hire will go live on the Ryanair website from September 1. Mr O'Leary said the summer period was strong for Ryanair and pointed out that its load factors have been at record levels.
He said Ryanair will benefit as existing fuel hedges expire in coming months. Those fuel hedges were inked at nearly twice the current price of a barrel of oil.