NICOSIA Ryanair will probably submit an expression of interest in troubled Cyprus Airways which is up for sale, Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on Tuesday.
The Cypriot government in mid-July invited non-binding expressions of interest in its shares or assets in Cyprus Airways, a state-controlled airline which has posted heavy losses for years.
The deadline for submissions is July 23, and requires a non-binding expression of interest to consider a potential binding offer.
"We probably will make some expression of interest in Cyprus Airways," O'Leary told reporters in Nicosia in response to a question. "...We want to see if we could help the government come up with some rescue package even though it might be too late."
The Cypriot airline has been selling assets to keep afloat, including slots at London's Heathrow airport. The state owns 93 percent of the airline.
O'Leary said he would be meeting with Cypriot tourism and finance officials, where Ryanair would raise concerns over high fees charged by Cypriot airports. "We would like to grow more, but the impediment are the high costs," he said, adding that a high cost base had seen Cyprus lose half a million passengers over a five-year period since 2008.
"The place is stagnating," he said.
Charges at Cyprus's two airports are double that of an airport in Berlin and are among the highest in Europe, Ryanair executives said.
O'Leary was in Cyprus to launch its 2014 winter schedule. The airline flies to eight European destinations from Paphos airport.
(Reporting by Michele Kambas; editing by Jason Neely)