Concessions put forward by Ryanair in an effort to win approval to take over rival Aer Lingus look set to be rejected by Brussels.
The European Commission has made it clear that it will reject what Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary described as a “radical” and “unprecedented” remedies package to secure regulatory approval.
Ryanair has been told that the remedies package falls short of what is required to counter competition concerns on all routes where the merged Irish carrier would enjoy a dominant position, the Financial Times reports today.
The EU is to serve formal objections against the budget carrier’s third proposed takeover of Aer Lingus after it failed to offer remedies that address all Brussels’ concerns about the deal.
The issuance of a so-called “statement of objections” by the commission will take Ryanair one step closer to its bid being blocked.
The provisional deadline for a commission decision is early February.
O’Leary told the newspaper he had received “no feedback” from the commission but added he believed Brussels would find it “very difficult” to reject the proposed remedies package.
He said there were six airlines willing to provide competition on routes where Ryanair and Aer Lingus overlap, although he did not identify them.
British Airways and Flybe are believed to be considering the case for operating services on routes where the Irish carriers overlap.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, British Airways’ parent, confirmed the company had held discussions with O’Leary, adding:
“If there was some benefit to us in dialogue with Ryanair – in the event they are successful [with the Aer Lingus bid] – we certainly will do that.”
Flybe chief executive Jim French, who is moving to the role of non-executive chairman, declined to comment.