Ryanair founder in Singapore launch

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The Independent Online

The founder of the no-frills Irish airline Ryanair is to help launch a new budget carrier based in Singapore.

Tony Ryan, who founded Ryanair 18 years ago and floated the company in 1997, will own a 16 per cent stake in the new Asian carrier Tiger Airways, which plans to start services in the second half of next year.

Singapore Airlines will hold 49 per cent while its parent company, the Singapore state investment agency Temasek Holdings, will own a further 11 per cent. The remaining 24 per cent will be held by the Texan financier and Ryanair chairman David Bonderman and Bill Franke, the former head of America West.

There has been speculation for months that Singapore Airlines, which owns 49 per cent of Virgin Atlantic, would launch its own low-cost carrier even though it will compete for business with its regional airline SilkAir. Another Singapore-based budget airline, ValuAir, is pushing ahead with plans to launch next spring while Air Asia of Malaysia also hopes to get a licence to start flying to Singapore next year.

News of Mr Ryan's latest venture came as Ryanair won the first round in its court battle to be allowed subsidies to operate into the state-owned Strasbourg airport in France.

The court-appointed adviser to the appeal court in Nancy said the agreement between Ryanair and Strasbourg did not constitute state aid and that the administrative tribunal in Strasbourg which originally found against Ryanair did not have the competence to rule on such a commercial dispute. The adviser also said the case brought against Ryanair before the tribunal by Air France should be thrown out. Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said he was "optimistic" the appeal court would rule in its favour.