RYANAIR has offered fellow low-cost airline Flybe €100 million (£85.8m) in cash to take some routes off its hands if the Irish carrier succeeds in its bid for Aer Lingus.
Flybe said yesterday that it had reached an agreement, which still needs board and shareholder approval, that would see it take on “a number of aircraft and operating routes as part of a package of concessions Ryanair has submitted to the European Commission”.
The firm added: “The agreement provides for a new company to be incorporated into which the relevant business assets, including cash of €100m, and liabilities would be transferred and which Flybe would then acquire.”
Ryanair, headed by chief executive Michael O’Leary, launched its latest €694m offer for Aer Lingus in June, having seen two previous approaches fail. The airline has proposed an “unprecedented” package of measures to get the green light from regulators. Among them are a promise to cede 43 routes to Flybe and three Heathrow routes to British Airways, sources said.
Espirito Santo analyst Gerald Khoo said Ryanair’s efforts meant the European Commission was coming under increasing pressure to justify why the deal should be blocked.
He added: “We understand the remedies package involves many other airlines committing to compete on routes where a combined Ryanair-Aer Lingus would otherwise have a monopoly. Nothing would happen unless both the EC cleared the deal and Ryanair were to succeed in securing the support of sufficient Aer Lingus shareholders.”