Ryanair Holdings Plc’s chief said he hopes regulators will make a “positive decision” by the end of February on his airline’s bid to buy rival Aer Lingus Group Plc as his company offers concessions to ensure competition.
“We’ve submitted a very radical package of remedies,” Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said in an interview in Rome. “It’s a question of spending time” with the European Commission, he said, “trying to tweak the remedies so we ensure we address all the commission’s competition concerns and come out with the best deal for Irish consumers and visitors.”
Ryanair, Europe’s biggest discount airline, owns about 30 percent of Aer Lingus, and in June renewed an attempt to buy the remainder. The EU agency blocked a takeover attempt five years earlier, saying it would create a monopoly for Irish flights. The 694 million-euro ($926 million) bid has also drawn opposition from Aer Lingus and Ireland’s government.
Ryanair has said it could exit all 46 Dublin routes that overlap with Aer Lingus and that several rival carriers are interested in competing at Irish airports. International Consolidated Airlines Group SA, owner of British Airways, in December signed a non-binding agreement to buy landing slots at London’s Heathrow airport from Ryanair if it completes the planned takeover.
“Talks are continuing with the up-front buyers,” O’Leary said today.
Ryanair was told by the European Commission this month that it must propose further concessions to rescue the Aer Lingus bid, according to two people familiar with the matter who declined to be identified because the negotiations are private.