Ryanair has never made an approach for Norwegian Air and does not intend to, the airline said today, disputing claims made by the chief executive of its rival budget carrier.
A source with close knowledge of the discussion told Reuters that Ryanair last year approached Norwegian Air with a proposal to take a stake of around 20%.
Norwegian Air's chief executive Bjoern Kjos confirmed there had been contact between the companies and he brought it up with the board, but declined to discuss any details.
"There is no truth to these claims. We have not made an approach to Norwegian and we have no interest," Ryanair said in a statement today.
"Our CEO has repeatedly said we believe NAS will go bust as oil rises to $80 a barrel and we don’t catch falling knives," the airline added.
Europe's largest and third-largest low-cost airlines respectively, Ryanair and Norwegian compete for passengers as well as pilots and crews across the continent.
Norwegian Air, under pressure to staff its fleet as it ramps up transatlantic business, said today that summer bookings are good and it has "more than enough" pilots to cover the season.
The company, which has been courted by Aer Lingus owner IAG, struggled last summer to have enough pilots on duty and had to lease extra planes and staff that weighed on its bottom line.
"We have more than enough pilots this year and we have hired many pilots that we have trained up. We are very well covered for the summer," CEO Bjoern Kjos said in an interview with Reuters.
Asked whether bookings for the busy summer season were strong, Kjos said: "Yes."
IAG last month disclosed it had bought a 4.6% stake in Norwegian, but the budget carrier later said it had rejected two takeover proposals.
"What the shareholders should think of is that we are in the initial phase of harvesting significant value following a strong expansion. Our growth will begin to level off in the autumn," Kjos said.
He declined to say if there had been any more contact with IAG.