Ryanair confirmed it will appeal against today’s decision by Europe’s anti-monopoly watchdog to block its third takeover bid for Aer Lingus.

The rejection was expected after the no-frills carrier said earlier this month the European Commission told it of its intention to block the €694 million bid to gain control of its Irish rival.

The Commission’s ruling said: “The competition concerns raised by the contemplated merger were unprecedented. These concerns cover 46 actual overlap short-haul routes and additional short-haul routes where potential competition between the parties would have been eliminated.”

The veto is the first time the Commission has twice rejected a proposed takeover.

In response, a Ryanair spokesman said: “We believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically-inspired prohibition.

“We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns … Accordingly, Ryanair has instructed its legal advisers to prepare a comprehensive appeal.”

The bid, described by Ryanair as its third and final effort to takeover its rival, included ceding 43 routes to a newly created Irish subsidiary of Flybe and handing to British Airways routes Aer Lingus operates from Gatwick.

The Commission blocked Ryanair’s first attempt to take over Aer Lingus in 2007 and Ryanair dropped its second in 2009.

The Commission said the acquisition of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would have eliminated its closest competitor on a “significant number” of routes.

“While passengers now have the ability to choose between flights offered by Ryanair and Aer Lingus, they would no longer have this possibility after the acquisition,” the ruling said.

“On an important number of routes, passengers would face a monopoly, having no other choice than to fly with the merged entity.”