EU antitrust regulators yesterday formally blocked a third attempt by Ryanair to buy Irish rival Aer Lingus, a ruling Europe’s biggest low-cost airline called politically motivated and vowed to challenge in court.
The European Commission, which vetoed Ryanair’s first takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2007, said Ryanair had not offered sufficient concessions to allay concerns about the combined company’s dominance or monopoly on 46 routes.
It said the €694m (£601m) bid, which was opposed by the Irish government, could hurt competition and lead to over 11m passengers paying more.
Ryanair, which owns 30 per cent of Aer Lingus and has been battling to buy Ireland’s 75-year-old former flag carrier to strengthen its market position, had promised to divest some of Aer Lingus’s routes to Flybe and British Airways in an attempt to win over regulators.
Ryanair described its concessions as unprecedented and rejected the Commission’s arguments.
“We believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically-inspired prohibition,” it said.
Flybe said the concessions “would have afforded credible and robust competition, including new jobs and bases in Ireland”.
City A.M. Reporter