Low cost Ryanair airliner may express an interest in buying faltering Cypriot national air carrier Cyprus Airways, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said on Tuesday.
Both the Cyprus government and Cyprus Airways published newspaper advertisements last week calling for non-binding expressions of interest in buying the government's shares in the company or all of its assets.
The government, which owns 93 percent of Cyprus Airways, said it is looking for a strategic investor to help keep the company into the air following heavy losses over the past few years.
Cyprus Airways managed to stay in the air by getting about 80 million euros (107.7 million U.S. dollars) in government subsidies and by selling its last time slot at London's Heathrow airport.
However, the European Commission is expected to decide, probably in the autumn, whether government subsidies to the air carrier could be justified under EU rules banning subsidization of state owned enterprises.
A decision against subsidies would mean the end of the company, as it would be unable to return the money.
The deadline for submitting non-binding bids for Cyprus Airways expires on Wednesday, July 23.
O'Leary, who is in Cyprus with other top Ryanair officials to launch his company's winter schedule, said it may express an interest in buying off Cyprus Airways.
"We want to see if we would help the government come up with some rescue package even though it might be too late," O'Leary said.
Ryanair established an operating base offering low cost flights to eight European operations about five years ago, mostly operating out of the eastern Mediterranean island's second international airport at the western city of Paphos.