Aer Lingus takeover opposed
The Government has decided to oppose Ryanair's bid to take over Aer Lingus after studying details of the plan, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said today, delivering a blow to the airline's ambitions.
The European Commission, which is investigating the €694 million bid on competition grounds and will have the ultimate say early next year, sent Ryanair a list of objections to the acquisition last month.
Ryanair has offered fresh concessions, which include an offer to sell some of Aer Lingus's landing slots at London's Heathrow airport to British Airways and slots elsewhere to Flybe, according to a person familiar with the matter.
"The Ryanair offer and at least the remedies that are being reported are not sufficient in our view, so we won't support their bid and, in addition, won't co-operate with their remedies package," Mr Varadkar told journalists.
"The commission will make its own decision, but we have given our views and they are around connectivity, competition and employment. We don't see any advantages for Ireland in what's being proposed and we see very significant potential risks."
Mr Varadkar, who reiterated the government's intention to sell its own 25 per cent stake in the former state carrier and said advisers will be appointed in the New Year, would not comment on what aspects of the remedies package the government opposed.
When asked about the remedies package, BA, which is part of the International Consolidated Airlines Group, said it had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Ryanair which is subject to EC approval as part of the review of the Ryanair-Aer Lingus deal.
Ryanair, which already owns 30 per cent of Aer Lingus, said in a statement that as the Government owns just 25 per cent of the once dominant airline, it had no power to block the offer, adding that it had submitted an "unprecedented remedies package".
In its first package of concessions, Ryanair secured commitments from airlines to set up bases in Dublin, and said it would scrap some routes it and Aer Lingus currently fly from Ireland.
The commission blocked Ryanair's first takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2007. The Irish no-frills airline dropped a second offer in 2009.