Aer Lingus insists it can fend off Ryanair bid as its earnings soar

IRISH flag carrier Aer Lingus yesterday insisted it could survive as an independent company and said the hostile takeover bid from rival Ryanair was unlikely to make it past European competition authorities.

“It seems to me so farfetched, this proposition, that we don’t bother wasting our time on it,” Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller said yesterday as he unveiled a 40 per cent rise in operating profit to €69.1m (£59.7m) for 2012.

Ryanair made its third bid for the company last year, valuing Aer Lingus at €694m. But its deal hinges on offloading some routes to British airline FlyBe to allay competition concerns. The European Commission will decide on the deal by 6 March.

“We question very much that Flybe will be an independent competitor to Ryanair and we are working from the assumption that we will be around next year,” added Mueller.