* Sees 3-4 pct passenger growth 2013-14 vs 4.2 pct 2012-13
* Aims to order aircraft from Boeing late 2013, early 2014
* Expects bid for Aer Lingus to be approved by EU Commission
* In talks with Tunisia, Libya and Egypt on opening markets
(Adds details of Ryanair's latest Aer Lingus concessions)
By Naomi O'Leary
ROME, Jan 22 Ryanair, Europe's biggest
low-cost airline, expects passenger growth to slow in 2013 as it
cuts back on short-distance flights in some markets due to
higher airport fees, its chief executive told Reuters on
"I think the growth will be slower this year," Michael
O'Leary said, predicting passenger numbers would increase 3-4
percent to up to 82.5 million in the year to March 2014.
That compares with expected growth of 4.2 percent in the
Irish airline's financial year ending March 2013.
"The summer this year will be mostly flat, most of the
growth will happen in the winter of 2013-2014," O'Leary said.
O'Leary said the company, which is expanding longer-distance
flights, was aiming to order aircraft from aerospace company
Boeing in late 2013 or early 2014.
He described as "overstated" Boeing's difficulties with the
new Dreamliner 787 model, grounded by authorities around the
world last week after a series of technical problems.
Ryanair is still in talks with the European Commission about
a bid to take over Irish rival Aer Lingus, but O'Leary
said he expects the Commission to give a green light.
"We don't expect it to go to an appeal process because it
will be very difficult for the commission to reject this package
of remedies because they are so transformational and
revolutionary," O'Leary said, referring to concessions that
Ryanair has proposed in a bid to address competition concerns.
The 694-million-euro ($924 million) takeover bid is being
examined on competition grounds. The European Commission blocked
a previous bid in 2007, saying it would create a monopoly on
The takeover is also opposed by the Irish government, which
owns 25 percent of Aer Lingus. Ryanair, which owns 30 percent of
Aer Lingus, dropped a second offer in 2009.
In its latest round of concessions, Ryanair has offered to
give up half of its 92 routes, according to a person familiar
with the matter. It would give three of Aer Lingus' Heathrow
routes to British Airways and 43 other routes to Flybe
, the person said.
Speaking in Rome after the announcement of new routes from
Italy to North Africa, O'Leary said he was not worried by
political instability in the region.
"The new regimes will be seen to be delivering some growth
and some economic activity and I think deregulation and open
skies is one of the first things those regimes are looking at,
so we're talking to the Tunisians, the Libyans, the Egyptians,"
($1 = 0.7510 euros)
(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary, Editing by Francesca Landini, Mark
Potter and Tim Hepher)