Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said he would be prepared to provide Aer Lingus with fully crewed aircraft in the event that the former state airline is hit by a cabin crew strike in two weeks' time.

But O'Leary, whose company is a major shareholder in the troubled airline, told the Sunday Tribune that there had been no approach from Aer Lingus for such cover.

He described the proposed action by Aer Lingus staff as "more turkeys voting for Christmas".

O'Leary leased crewed aircraft to British Airways earlier this year when its cabin crew went on strike.

Just prior to the ballot by the 1,600 cabin crew at Aer Lingus, the airline said it had "the means to deal with every outcome" and assured customers there would be no disruption to their travel plans.

The airline is working on contingency plans in the event the dispute with its cabin crew develops into full-blown strike action. But it declined to detail these arrangements.

The Impact trade union has also assured travellers that the 'action' it has threatened involves working to the old rosters and crew will work as normal from 25 August, when the notice of action expires.

But the union said that should the company move to discipline or dismiss any cabin crew member refusing to work the new extended rosters, then it reserves the right to take full strike action.

The company is seeking to extend the flying time of its cabin crew from 750 to 850 hours a year.

While a large number of Aer Lingus cabin crew already work 850 hours, because of the old 'black book' rule, which gives two to three days off for crew operating transatlantic flights, implementation of the new rosters is almost impossible.