O'Leary confident 'competition issues' over bid for Aer Lingus can be satisfied
Ryanair is confident it can allay competition concerns about its latest bid for rival Aer Lingus, chief executive Michael O’Leary said yesterday, adding that the budget airline was also seeking no more than a 25 per cent stake in Stansted Airport.
Ryanair launched its third offer in five years for Irish rival Aer Lingus in June, a €694 million bid that the rival carrier has urged shareholders to reject, while it is also interested in buying a slice of London’s third biggest airport.
Europe’s competition regulator last week launched an in-depth review of Ryanair’s latest Aer Lingus bid, signalling the airline may have to make big concessions to ease competition concerns or face fresh failure.
“We are confident that the remedies package will be enough to satisfy competition issues,” Mr O’Leary told a news conference in London.
“There are 46 cross-over routes, and we will remedy all of them by getting airlines to come to Dublin and take them over,” Mr O’Leary added, referring to routes on which both Ryanair and Aer Lingus operate.
A source familiar with the matter said the company was talking to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic about possibly opening routes and divesting airport slots.
Ryanair, which already owns 30 per cent of Aer Lingus, had an initial bid turned down by the European Commission in 2007 and dropped a second offer in 2009.
Mr O’Leary also said Ryanair was seeking no more than a 24.9 per cent stake in Stansted airport and was in talks with “a number of potential bidders” who want the airline involved in a consortium bid for the airport.
British airports operator BAA opened the way for a $2 billion sale of Stansted at the end of August, with Manchester Airports Group an early frontrunner in a bid battle expected to draw US banks, pension funds and Asian operators. – (Reuters)