Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary issues investment warning

By Ravender Sembhy

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has warned that the budget airline will be forced to scale back British investment if the country votes to leave the European Union.

Appearing on a platform with Chancellor George Osborne at Stansted Airport, Mr O'Leary (right) said that inward investment will be lost to competitor EU member states such as Ireland and Germany if Britain votes for Brexit.

He also announced the creation of 450 new jobs in Britain as part of a €1.4bn (£976m) investment into the Ryanair's 13 UK bases.

Mr O'Leary said: "It is this type of large-scale foreign inward investment that is helping to drive the UK economy and job creation.

"It is exactly this type of investment that will be lost to other competitor EU members if the UK votes to leave the European Union."

The outspoken Irishman also urged the British public to vote to Remain on June 23.

He said: "The single market has enabled Ryanair to lead the low-fare air travel revolution in Europe, as we bring millions of British citizens to Europe each year, and welcome millions of European visitors to Britain, and we are calling on everyone to turn out in large numbers and vote Remain."

Mr O'Leary was speaking at the opening of Ryanair's European Training Centre at Stansted, which this year is creating more than 1,000 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said leaving the EU would be a "huge backward step for UK aviation".The event also featured ex-Business Secretary Vince Cable and ex-Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

The Chancellor accused the Leave camp in the EU referendum of indulging in conspiracy theories as he insisted there was an "overwhelming consensus" among economists and world leaders that Brexit would be bad for the UK.

Ryanair's event came after more than 300 business leaders urged Britain to vote to leave the European Union.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, they argued that businesses will be "free to grow faster, expand into new markets and create more jobs" if they are unconstrained by EU rules. Signatories include Peter Goldstein, a founder of Superdrug; Steve Dowdle, a former vice-president Europe of Sony; David Sismey, a managing director of Goldman Sachs, and Sir Patrick Sheehy, the former chairman of British American Tobacco.

Meanwhile, speaking at an event in Dublin last week, Mr O'Leary urged the pro-EU lobby to put its case as plainly as possible as the referendum nears.

"I'd want to terrify the life out of everybody that there's a real danger the lunatics on the leave side are going to win, so get out and vote," he said.

The company is running newspaper and digital ads urging a 'remain vote' and has also put large pro-EU stickers on some aircraft.

Belfast Telegraph