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Ryanair is pressing bid for Aer Lingus

By Irish Echo Staff

Ryanair is not flying into the blue yonder with regard to its bid to take over Aer Lingus. Far from it.

Ryanair will submit new antitrust concessions to allay regulatory concern over its bid for Aer Lingus, according to reports this week.

"They will come up with new remedies," European Union Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told reporters in Belgium on Monday.

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"The ones we have received so far created objections that were transmitted to them the other day," he said.

Almunia declined to comment on the EU's view of the potential takeover.

The Sunday Business Post reported that Ryanair was working on a response to EU demands for new concessions. The Post reported that the EU Commission's concerns are thought to be related to how firm the commitments are from two British airlines, British Airways and Flybe, which have committed to fly new routes out of Ireland to compete with a merged Ryanair and Aer Lingus.

While the EU is withholding comment, the Irish government is formally opposing Ryanair's bid to take over Aer Lingus, this after studying details of the plan.

The European Commission, which is investigating the €694 million bid on competition grounds, and will have the ultimate say, likely delivered before the end of this month, sent Ryanair a list of objections to its acquisition bid - hence the concessions from the low-cost carrier.

"The commission will make its own decision, but we have given our views and they are around connectivity, competition and employment. We don't see any advantages for Ireland in what's being proposed, and we see very significant potential risks," is how Irish government minister, Leo Varadkar, has described Dublin's concern.

In an initial package of concessions, according to the Irish Times, Ryanair secured commitments from airlines to set up bases in Dublin and said it would scrap some routes it and Aer Lingus currently fly from Ireland. In a revised package, Ryanair also pledged to sell some landing slots at London's Heathrow Airport to other carriers.

The European commission blocked Ryanair's first takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2007, and Ryanair dropped a second offer made in 2009. This time, however, the airline, with chief executive Michael O'Leary at the controls, seems more determined to push ahead with the bid.