Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has backed British Airways counterpart Willie Walsh in his battle with striking cabin crew, declaring: “People should get back to work.”

O’Leary is better known for lampooning rivals, but he leased three aircraft to BA to help break the three-day cabin crew strike last weekend and will do the same this weekend. He said Walsh had called him to say thank you and ask for more aircraft.

“Walsh is absolutely right in this,” said O’Leary. “We are helping BA win in the interests of passengers.”

However, the Irish carrier will struggle to make more than four or five aircraft available to BA over the planned four-day strike from Saturday because of a shortage of crew.

“I hope BA wins,” said O’Leary. “But I fear the BA board will back down.” He added: “BA has managed the strike extraordinarily well. If I were Willie Walsh, I would be doing what he is doing.”

O’Leary was speaking at a press conference called to launch “a significant technological development” in Ryanair’s war on screen scraping. However, he gave no details of the development other than to announce: “We will have a price comparison website in the next couple of months.”