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Branson accused of trying to ‘fleece the taxpayer’

by LLB Reporter

Michael O’Leary the chief executive of Ryanair has accused Sir Richard Branson of trying to fleece the taxpayer.

O’Leary accused the Virgin chief of trying to “fleece the British taxpayer” as Sir Richard is asking for a loan to prevent his business collapsing.

The Ryanair chief told Sky News that the billionaire Branson is “not short of money” as he is living in a “tax exile” in the Virgin Islands.

He said that Branson can cover Virgin’s Atlantics needs beyond wages, as he offered hhis luxury Necker Island as collateral against a government loan for £500m.

Branson told his employees Virgin will do “everything we can to keep the airline going,” shortly after Virgin Australia went into voluntary administration.

O’Leary told Sky’s Ian King show, “Now you have Virgin Atlantic owned by Delta and a Caribbean island-based, non-resident billionaire.

“Frankly if he’s worried about Virgin he should write the cheque himself. It’s not like he’s short of money.”

He said he expects Ryanair to be flying around 40% of their services the latest by July, and urged customers to choose flight vouchers as it is an automated system.

He apologised over the delays in refunds and said his company are doing everything the can, and it could take months.

O’Leary said, “In a normal month, we process about 10,000 refunds for occasional flight cancellations – things like that.

“We’re staffed up for that. At the moment, we’re working with about a quarter of the normal refund staff because of social distancing and bans on people travelling to work.

“But we’re dealing… just in the month of April with 10 million refunds because all the fights have been cancelled.

“So, we have 25% of the staff, dealing with about 10,000 times the normal level of refunds.”

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