Multiple reports say that Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has stated that the Irish low cost carrier has ambition to secure an Israeli AOC [air operator’s certificate] to allow it to set up a base in Israel which would serve Russia, Central Europe and Germany.
In an interview with the "Irish Independent" O'Leary revealed that the Irish low-cost airline has major plans for Israel. He told the newspaper that, "the scale of the airline's ambition in Israel extends far beyond operating just a few flights to the country."
He said, "We're actively talking to the Israeli authorities, but the difficulty is that once you go outside Europe you need to have, in this case, an Israeli air operator's certificate. But it's still very much on the front foot for us. But the Israeli authorities have got much more nervous about protecting El-Al from competition because of the recent events."
O'Leary continued: "What we're looking to do in Israel is something much bigger. We want to serve markets all over Israel to Russia, central Europe, the UK, Germany and a lot of other markets."
Following Israel’s signing of an Open Skies agreement with the EU in 2013, a number of low-cost airlines have begun operating new routes into the country, including both easyJet and Wizz Air.
The signing also prompted El Al to launch its own low-cost subsidiary, Up, which operates out of Ben Gurion. Should Ryanair enter the market, O'Leary noted that he felt confident the move would be successful and would prompt a steady expansion of operations in the region. In 2013, Ryanair was the largest European airline by scheduled passengers carried.
Ryanair operates around 300 Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The airline has been characterized by its rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation sector in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model. Ryanair's route network serves 28 countries in Europe and also Morocco.