Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Captain O'Leary and the Pay Dirt Cowboys

You've got to hand it to Michael O'Leary he's built an airline bigger and better than most people would have thought him able to do, not that long ago. He's also got a gift of the gab that will probably see the word blarney replaced with O'leary within the next decade. Over at Bloomberg.com there's a story saying that Ryanair will react to any slump in demand for air travel by purchasing new planes. "We're looking at aircraft numbers beyond 2012,'' Michael O'Leary said in an interview yesterday. He added that a slowdown is likely "in the next year or two.'' Not that it's not as daft as it first looks because Ryanair are offloading older aircraft on the second hand market and believe they can take advantage of the weak dollar when looking to buy new aircraft. However you do still have to fill them to make money.

An analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers in Dublin is recommending that Ryanair are a stock to buy. However, yesterday Ryanair shares fell as much as 13 cents, or 2.8%, to 4.53 euros before rallying to record a 4 cent drop by the end of trading. Their shares have declined 11 percent this year, valuing the company at 6.92 billion euros ($10.2 billion).

The fact is that with tightening credit, some economic slowdown and other negative factors all in play, or coming into play, it makes it seem less than certain for any of the airlines. Just now the weaknesses of the dollar has helped, yet there are no signs of any releasing of pressure. Add to this the fact that Mr O'Leary has previously indicated that he would leave the company in 2008. Yesterday he said he was likely to leave Ryanair in the next two or three years. I'm sure that there are strong pressures on him to stay. Any sign of the Captain leaving the ship may cause a little panic amongst not just his aircrew.

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