Friday

24th Nov 2017

Ryanair slams EU's 'political' decision on Aer Lingus bid

  • Almunia said the decision will 'protect the millions of Europeans who travel to and from Ireland' (Photo: andynash)

Budget airline Ryanair has slammed what it described as a "politically motivated" decision by the European Commission to block its €694 million bid to take over rival Aer Lingus.

In a strongly worded statement issued as the bloc's competition chief Joaquin Almunia confirmed the EU's decision on Wednesday (27 February), Ryanair accused him of making a “political” decision to pander to the vested interests of the Irish government."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Irish government holds a 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus, while Ryanair already owns 30 percent.

For his part, Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller said that Ryanair's offer "should never have been made."

He also claimed that the Michael O'Leary-fronted airline had "made its offer without any reasonable belief that it could obtain clearance.” The UK Competition Commission is currently investigating whether Ryanair's existing shareholding breaches competition rules.

Explaining the decision to reporters, Almunia said that the decision would "protect the millions of Europeans who travel to and from Ireland." He added that the merger would have "directly harmed passengers, who would have had to pay higher fares."

Despite this, Ryanair has already signalled its intent to appeal the case to the EU's General Court in Luxembourg.

In its statement, the budget airline claimed that it had offered "an historic and unprecedented remedies package that included not one, but two upfront buyers (BA/IAG & Flybe) to take over approximately half of Aer Lingus’ short-haul business."

However, commissioner Almunia insisted that allowing the merger would still have created an effective monopoly on 28 of the 46 routes where Ryanair and Aer Lingus are currently in competition. He also dismissed the suggestion that FlyBe would be able to fill the gap left by Aer Lingus, commenting that the Commission did not think FlyBe would have been able to "compete on a lasting basis."

He concluded that "remedying problems of such magnitude would have required a countervailing force capable to be a strong and viable competitor to Ryanair - precisely the kind of competitor that Aer Lingus is today."

Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely added that the commission decision left Aer Lingus as "a small, isolated airline and leaves the two Irish airlines at the mercy of the government-owned Dublin Airport monopoly, which continues to increase passenger charges, deliver third-rate services and oversee traffic declines."

The decision is the second time that the commission has used the EU merger directive to prevent the takeover, having originally thrown out a bid by Ryanair in 2007. Ryanair then dropped a second takeover bid in 2009.

Meanwhile, the EU executive has blocked an airline merger having also prevented a takeover attempt by Aegean of Olympic airlines, Greece's two largest carriers, in January 2011.

Brussels examines McCreevy plan to join Ryanair

Brussels is examining whether former EU commissioner Charlie McCreevy's move to join the board of Irish lowcost airline Ryanair is in breach of ethical rules governing the professional activities of ex-commissioners for up to a year after they leave office.

Ryanair will not pay EU fine, says boss

Ryanair’s outspoken Chief Executive Michael O’Leary says his company will not pay a four million euro EU fine due later this month.

Commission warns Italy over high debt level

The Italian government must demonstrate it is making an effort, or the EU will consider launching a procedure. France and Romania are also under scrutiny.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Germany remains 'active' in EU
  2. Work with Israel, Egypt on gas exploration, says Commission
  3. Only seven EU states have 'advanced' stage climate plans
  4. EU dashes integration hopes of eastern countries
  5. EU approves joint Irish electricity scheme
  6. German president to launch 'Grand Coalition' talks
  7. Irish opposition 'threatens national interest', says minister
  8. SPD drops opposition to grand coalition in Germany

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaSignature of CEPA Marks a Fresh Start for EU-Armenia Relations
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Ministers Pledge to Work More Closely at Nordic and EU Level
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaPresident Sargsyan Joined EuFoA Honorary Council Inaugural Meeting
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Leaders Should Press Azerbaijan President to End the Detention of Critics
  5. CECEKey Stakeholders to Jointly Tackle the Skills Issue in the Construction Sector
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaLaunch of Honorary Council on the Occasion of the Eastern Partnership Summit and CEPA
  7. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  8. EPSUStudy Finds TUNED and Employers in Central Governments Most Representative
  9. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  10. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  11. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  12. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left

Latest News

  1. What Armenia's new agreement with the EU means
  2. Member states still lack definition of 'energy poverty'
  3. Chinese the most bullish on EU investment, report finds
  4. Lead MEP says EU is weeks away from deal on car approvals
  5. EU still giving gas projects 'fast-track' status
  6. Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit
  7. UK to call out 'hostile' Russia at EU summit
  8. EU calls for better disease prevention