Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary (left) and Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos.
(Business Insider Nordic)
Norwegian has said that Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary's recent attack happened because large amounts of pilots have left his company to work for Norwegian instead.
O'Leary caused a major stir when he, in a meeting with journalists last week, said that Norwegian is going bankrupt in a matter of months.
"They are running out of cash. They are scrabbling around daily," O'Leary said, while also predicting a similar fate for Monarch, another low-cost airline.
Norwegian first rejected the news as "nonsense," and has now followed up with an explanation on why it thinks O'Leary was so worked up: Norwegian is mass recruiting pilots for its global expansion, and many of them come from Ryanair.
"I can confirm that we've hired almost 140 Ryanair pilots so far this year. With us, they gain permanent employment and get a competitive salary," said Charlotte Holmbergh Jacobsson, Head of Communications, to Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.
This would mean that roughly a third of Norwegian's hires this year have come from the Irish low-cost competitor.
And there could be more: Norwegian aims to add 500 pilots this year, and establish a base in Dublin, Ryanair's home.
Even though O'Leary is known for making controversial comments, Norwegian's stock went down the day of his remarks, giving rise to speculations about the low-cost carrier's financial health.
"Norwegian is a stable, publicly listed company that has been profitable for the last ten years, and we will continue with our global expansion plans," Holmbergh Jacobsson said. "There are no signs indicating that we wouldn't be able to make it."
(Tom Turula - Business Insider Nordic)