The Ryanair boss says that if he is allowed to lease or buy Hangar 6 in Dublin airport, he can create 300 key aircraft maintenance jobs to maintain Ryanair's fleet. This would replace a large portion of the nearly 1,000 well-paid jobs that were lost this time last year when the Swiss-based SR Technics pulled out of Ireland.
O'Leary warned that time is running out on his offer and that if the government doesn't act quickly to preserve jobs in Ireland, he will export the positions. He says that 200 out of 500 original jobs on offer last September have already gone to Prestwick in Scotland, where the Scottish authorities bent over backwards to accommodate Ryanair's job creation plans.
Ryanair's rival in Ireland, Aer Lingus, has a 20 year lease on Hangar 6. Last week, it said it needed the building and wouldn't surrender the lease.
Not so, says O'Leary, who produced photographs showing an empty hangar. O'Leary also says that Aer Lingus has created no additional jobs there.
Despite claims by Tanaiste Mary Coughlan and Taoiseach Brian Cowen that the lease cannot be broken, O'Leary claims the Dublin Airport Authority is entitled to break the lease and force Aer Lingus to move within 12 months. In fact O'Leary argues Aer Lingus can quit the building in 12 weeks, allowing it to bring in the first tranche of jobs by autumn 2010.
Another problem is that O'Leary will not talk to the DAA.
As ever, he blames the government and the grinding state machinery which he says stifle commercial innovation. O'Leary has accused Coughlan of having no interest in saving 300 jobs. In a letter headed 'Dear Mary', he accused her of telling lies. After Fianna Fáil TD Mary O'Rourke suggested that O'Leary was not able to deal with women in positions of authority, O'Leary accused Taoiseach Brian Cowen of also telling lies.
Coughlan says when SR Technics pulled out last year her department, together with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, made every effort to find new owners. This resulted in the creation of Dublin Aerospace, which will employ 200 when fully operational.
The Tanaiste said that there were protracted discussions with Ryanair last September. While Ryanair's refusal to talk to the DAA was not insurmountable, the airline's insistence on taking over the Aer Lingus-occupied Hangar 6 was a major impediment.
The Tanaiste said that alternatives offered by the IDA included a new building on an available site within Dublin airport lands or taking empty space on Hangars 1 to 5. She claimed that for Ryanair it was Hangar 6 or nothing. She said Shannon airport had also offered a site for a new building.
'Location, location, location.' The hangar is superbly located within the rapidly sprawling Dublin Airport complex, allowing easy access for planes to taxi in for maintenance. Other hangars, ie, 1 to 5, are not as conveniently placed and are not big enough for Ryanair's needs.
It was also suggested that the hangar's location close to the public road leading up to the airport would be easily converted into a private terminal building, and that this is O'Leary's real agenda.
This was strongly denied by O'Leary, who has been in a running battle with the DAA over airport charges.
O'Leary says all he wants is for the DAA to sell Hangar 6 to Ryanair for €20m, the same price they paid for it last year ? not bad for such a desirable piece of real estate, even in a falling market.
Coughlan and the government could do with such a jobs boost, particularly given the week the government has had. But the real losers will be the 800 or so highly experienced former SRT aircraft maintenance engineers who have been drawing the dole for a year now.
In a remarkable intervention last week, Jimmy Kelly of the Unite union, which represents the SR Technics workers, came out in support of Michael O'Leary's plan.
There is no love lost between O'Leary and the trade unions. The Ryanair boss took the pilots' union, Ialpa, all the way to the Supreme Court to show that legally he doesn't have to negotiate with it.
But O'Leary's promise to recruit "some" former SR Technics workers prompted Kelly to set aside such differences.
If O'Leary wins his battle with the state apparatchik, he will be taking on a highly militant workforce stretching back to the strike-strewn days when it was known as Team Aer Lingus.
Labour costs for SR Technics had reached €70 an hour before the, mainly Saudi, investors pulled the plug. That's more than O'Leary pays his pilots.