Deadline extension agreed for Ryanair Aer Lingus takeover probe

A deadline for a decision on Ryanair’s latest attempt to acquire rival Aer Lingus has been extended by European competition regulators until February 6.

The European Commission announced the 15-day extension on its website on Friday.

Such extensions are typically given to enable companies more time to provide more information on their takeover bids, Reuters reported.

The EU antitrust watchdog opened an in-depth probe into the proposed deal last month after a preliminary review indicated competition concerns and high barriers to entry for other carriers.

Ryanair has said it would offer concessions to allay such concerns, but has not detailed the proposals.

The Irish no frills giant launched a €694 million bid for Aer Lingus in June which the former state carrier urged shareholders to reject.

The European Commission says “potential competition concerns” exist about the proposed takeover.

“Ryanair and Aer Lingus are the main operators out of Dublin airport,” it said. “On a large number of European routes, mainly out of Ireland, the two airlines are each other’s closest competitors and barriers to entry appear high. Many of these routes are currently only served by the two airlines.”

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said: “There are 46 cross-over routes and we will remedy all of them by getting airlines to come to Dublin and take them over.”

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