Ryanair to go to court for Aer Lingus merger

File photo of Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair. Picture: Getty
File photo of Michael O'Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair. Picture: Getty
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RYANAIR has vowed to fight in court a rejection by European officials of its renewed takeover bid for Irish rival Aer Lingus, branding the ruling politically motivated.

The low-cost carrier said the takeover bid, rejected yesterday by the European Commission, was supported by a historic and unprecedented remedies package.

The “radical” bid included two upfront buyers – BA/IAG and Flybe – to take over around half of Aer Lingus’s short-haul business.

Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said: “We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns and we believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically-inspired prohibition.”

The EC, which vetoed Ryanair’s first takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2007, said the budget airline had not offered sufficient concessions to allay concerns about the combined group’ dominance or monopoly on 46 routes.

It claimed the bid – opposed by the Irish government – could hurt competition and lead to more than 11 million passengers paying more.

European commissioner for competition Joaquin Almunia said: “For [Irish and European passengers], the acquisition of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would have most likely led to higher fares.”

Ryanair submitted its final package of takeover plans and commitments earlier this month following a series of meetings with European chiefs.

It said the package addressed the shortcomings in its previous two failed bids in 2007 and 2012.

Flybe, run by Scots-born executive chairman Jim French, had agreed to fly a number of Aer Lingus’s short-haul routes.