Inquiry into Ryanair-Aer Lingus bid ‘falling apart’

Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary. Picture: Getty/AFPRyanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary. Picture: Getty/AFP
Ryanair chief executive officer Michael O'Leary. Picture: Getty/AFP
BUDGET airline Ryanair believes the Competition Commission case over its minority stake in Aer Lignus is ‘falling apart’.

Its comments came in a fierce attack on the watchdog which extended the timetable for its investigation into the shareholding from 11 July to 5 September.

Ryanair believes the Commission has produced no evidence of any influence or lessening of competition arising from the stake which it has held for six and a half years.

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It pointed to a European Commission ruling in February that competition has intensified between Ryanair and Aer Lingus over the period.

Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said: “It’s clear that the UKCC’s case is falling apart. The fact that the UKCC is now desperately inventing bogus concerns which past and current evidence shows just how threadbare and weak the UKCC’s case is.

“This was clearly a politically motivated reference by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, at the same time as they were ignoring BA’s acquisition of British Midland, and Iberia’s acquisition of Vueling.

“Given that neither the Irish nor the European competition authorities had any difficulty with Ryanair’s six-and-a-half year old minority stake, the UKCC should explain why they are wasting UK taxpayers’ time or resources.

“Ryanair believes that the UKCC’s provisional findings contained more jokes than a Monty Python script. Yesterday’s announcement of this extension, merely confirms this fact, which is why the UKCC needs more time to try to invent bogus concerns or strengthen its threadbare case so that it doesn’t have to suffer the indignity of reversing its provisional thinking or ultimately losing on appeal before the UK and European courts.”

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