Ryanair remains confident that the European Commission will approve its €694 million bid for Aer Lingus despite Brussels issuing a so-called ‘statement of objections’ to the carrier.
The budget carrier confirmed that it remains in discussions with the Commission over its “radical” package of remedies designed to address competition concerns.
The statement of objections states that the remedies proposed are not yet sufficient to persuade the Commission to approve a possible takeover.
Ryanair confirmed yesterday that it received the statement on Tuesday.
It described the statement of objections received from the EU as a “standard procedural step” in intensive phase two EU merger reviews.
“Ryanair expects that the Commission will shortly market test this transformational remedies package, and remains confident that its offer for Aer Lingus will receive competition clearance following any fair assessment by the Commission,” a statement from the airline said.
“A detailed process of engagement with the EU Commission is now underway.”
The carrier has proposed remedies that include encouraging rivals to establish bases in Dublin.
Ryanair has also offered to offload some existing take-off and landing slots controlled by Aer Lingus at Heathrow if Brussels gives the green light for the takeover.
“This comprehensive remedies package includes a number of new airline bases in Dublin, new entrant competitors on over 40 routes to/from Dublin, Cork and Shannon, as well as specific competition solutions that guarantee increased price competition on routes to and from Ireland,” Ryanair said.
Ryanair said its offer for Aer Lingus is being reviewed while “dramatic changes” take place across the EU airline industry.
These include a large restructuring of Iberia with 4,500 job losses; the takeover of Vueling by IAG, combining the second and third-biggest airlines in Spain; a major restructuring of SAS including 6,000 job losses and state-backed loan guarantees; and the planned merger of Aegean and Olympic in Greece.
“It is against this backdrop that Ryanair is proposing a merger that provides secure jobs, growth opportunities and financial benefits for all shareholders in a larger Ireland-based EU carrier,” the airline said.
Ryanair already owns nearly 30% of Aer Lingus, while the Irish government owns just over 25%.
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