Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has tried to buy or take over rival Irish airline Aer Lingus three times now, and indications are that his third bid will not succeed either. Robin Kiely, Ryanair head of communications, says that the EU Commission which has been examining their bid to determine if the resulting airline would be anti-competitive plans to deny the latest buyout attempt. Kiely said, “It appears clear from this morning’s meeting, that no matter what remedies Ryanair offered, we were not going to get a fair hearing and were going to be prohibited regardless of competition rules.”
"This decision is clearly a political one to meet the narrow, vested interests of the Irish government and is not based on competition law," Keily added.
The airline says it will appeal the decision in the European courts, as it is “being held to a much higher standard than any other EU airline” and described the decision as political and unfair. However the European Commission said a final decision had not yet been taken.
Ryanair added it had “met every competition concern raised” by the EU during the process and provided “irrevocable commitments from not one, but two, upfront buyers to eliminate all competitive overlaps” between the airlines, as IAG and Flybe stepped in to take over a number of routes.
Ryanair, which has indicated that this third bid for Aer Lingus would be its last, said it would launch an appeal in European courts against the decision by the Commission, which acts as the European Union's competition authority. The Commission blocked Ryanair's first attempt to take over Aer Lingus in 2007 and Ryanair dropped its second in 2009.
"The Commission will take a decision in this case at the end of February or the beginning of March," said a spokesman for EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia.