Ryanair has not ruled out making a further attempt to take over Aer Lingus despite having an attempt blocked by the European Court of Justice.

However, the court ruled that the Irish no frills carrier could retain its 29.8% shareholding in Aer Lingus.

The European Commission had refused to permit Ryanair’s hostile £1.48 billion bid, saying a monopoly for flights from Dublin airport would be created.

Aer Lingus had wanted Ryanair to be forced to offload its shares in the company, first acquired after its privatisation four years ago.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary welcomed the ruling which confirmed that his airline cannot be forced to sell its stake in Aer Lingus.

He warned that the ruling preventing Ryanair’s takeover bid threatened the long term viability of Aer Lingus.

But any further offer would have to be subject to the court’s 125-page judgment.

“This will not prevent Ryanair making a future offer for Aer Lingus, but obviously any such offer will have to take account of the court’s detailed ruling,” said O’Leary.

“Ryanair has no immediate plans to make a third offer for Aer Lingus, which in any event would be unlikely to succeed unless the Irish Government decides to sell its 25% stake.”
He added: “We continue to believe that the long term financial viability of Aer Lingus can only be secured as part of one strong Irish airline group, particularly when the rest of Europe’s airlines are consolidating to three main flag carriers, led by Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa and two large low fares carriers, Ryanair and easyJet.

“Unless Aer Lingus finds a strong airline partner then we believe it is doomed to fail because it can’t compete with Ryanair’s low fares, customer service or scale.”