Ryanair Holdings PLC (LON:RYA) could not take full advantage of Thomas Cook’s collapse due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, its boss said on Tuesday afternoon.

“It will slow down our growth in summer 2020, which is a pity,” Michael O’Leary said at a Reuters event in London. “But safety is the first priority.”

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The Irish businessman also said Thomas Cook’s business model was outdated as the package holiday market is “screwed”.

He didn’t fail to bad-mouth the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is currently overseeing the massive repatriation to fly thousands of Thomas Cook holidaymakers back to the UK.

“How you can license Thomas Cook in April as fit to fly for another 12 months and then it goes bust in September? (It) is something the CAA needs to address,” he added, suggesting the authority should have stronger requirements for shareholders’ cash input to keep travel companies afloat.

Industry consolidation

O’Leary also predicted potential environmental taxes will push more EU carriers out of business and the burden will be heavier on low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair and easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) which account for the recent aviation emissions growth in the area.

He condemned proposals that would force low-cost carriers to bear the brunt of increased levies, but saw it creating a new dynamic in the sector. 

“It’s going to hasten the consolidation of the industry,” O’Leary said.

Shares were up 2.18% to €10.80 in late afternoon.