Once again, Irish airline Aer Lingus has rejected a takeover offer from International Consolidated Airlines (IAG).
The holding company, which was set up by Willie Walsh and owns British Airways, upped its takeover offer to €2.40 (£1.88) a share at the end of December.
Previously, IAG had made a bid of €2.30 a share, but Aer Lingus rejected this because it “fundamentally undervalued” the business. Aer Lingus is Ireland's oldest airline and second biggest after Ryanair.
Since setting up IAG in 2011, Walsh has been very vocal about his desire for more mergers and acquisitions to take place between European airlines, arguing that it would help business.
By owning Aer Lingus, IAG would acquire a larger number of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow Airport, enabling it to operate more flights. Aer Lingus has an estimated €1bn in cash on its balance sheet
But even if Aer Lingus did agree, there is no guarantee the takeover would go ahead – a number of other parties would also have to agree to it, including the Irish government which owns a 25 per cent stake in the business.
Ryanair, which owns 30 per cent of the company and has itself been rejected during a takeover bid, would also have to agree. This is particularly unlikely considering the protracted battle currently unravelling between the two airlines – a UK competition ruling is about to announce its decision on whether Ryanair must sell its stake in its Irish rival.