Ryanair says it is talking to manufacturers about the purchase of long-haul aircraft as it plans to develop transatlantic business between Europe and North America.

The airline said it would like to offer low-cost flights between 12-14 European cities and a similar number of US destinations.

But it said it expected it would be four to five years before services would start.

Ryanair said a start date would depend on getting the aircraft needed and it had not yet negotiated a deal.

This is not the first time that Ryanair has raised the prospect of transatlantic services.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary has been talking about it for several years but what is new is that the airline now says it is in discussions with aircraft manufacturers.

Mr O'Leary is reported to have said that while there would be a few tickets selling for €10, most would cost considerably more than that and there would be premium seats.

A company statement said: "The board of Ryanair have approved the business plans for future growth, including transatlantic. We are talking to manufacturers about long-haul aircraft

"European consumers want lower cost travel to the US and the same for Americans coming to Europe. We see it as a logical development in the European market."

Ryanair, which turned 30 this year and is the largest airline in Europe by passenger numbers, forecasts profits between €840m-€850m for its financial year which runs until the end of this month.