Airline takes action after rejection by European officials of its third takeover bid
Ryanair is taking to court its battle to acquire rival Aer Lingus following the rejection of its third takeover bid by European officials. The airline accused the European commission of acting unfairly and failing to apply its own competition rules and precedents to the latest takeover plan.
“We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns and we believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically inspired prohibition,” said a Ryanair spokesman. “Accordingly, Ryanair has instructed its legal advisers to prepare a comprehensive appeal against this manifestly unjust prohibition.”
The airline said the bid rejected on Wednesday by the EU, was supported by an unprecedented remedies package. The “radical” bid included two buyers – British Airways and Flybe – agreeing to take over about half of Aer Lingus’s short-haul business.
The takeover plan had been boosted this month when Flybe agreed to fly 43 of Aer Lingus’s short-haul routes, easing competition concerns. There had also been a commitment from International Airlines Group – owner of BA and Iberia – to run overlapping Aer Lingus/Ryanair routes between Dublin and London Gatwick to ensure competition.
Ryanair said the decision to block its latest bid was a political one to protect the interests of the Irish government, which holds a 25% stake in Aer Lingus. The airline submitted its final package of takeover plans and commitments this month following a series of meetings with EU chiefs. It said the package addressed the shortcomings in its two failed bids in 2007 and 2012.