Ryanair is readying for a fight with regulators over its deal to buy Aer Lingus.
On Tuesday, Ryanair, the discount European airline, said that the European Commission “intends to prohibit” its offer for Aer Lingus, despite the airline’s attempts to appease antitrust concerns. Ryanair added that it plans appeal the decision.
“It appears clear from this morning’s meeting, that no matter what remedies Ryanair offered, we were not going to get a fair hearing and we’re going to be prohibited regardless of competition rules,” Robin Kiely, the head of communications for the airline, said in a statement.
The deal has been troubled from the start.
Last summer, Ryanair moved to buy Aer Lingus, offering 694 million million euros in its third attempt to buy the Irish carrier. Management trumpeted the opportunities, saying the deal would create “one strong Irish airline group capable of competing with Europe’s other major airline groups.”
But the board of Aer Lingus immediately rejected the hostile takeover bid, saying it undervalued the airline and would raise antitrust concerns. Ryanair’s first bid to buy Aer Lingus in 2007 was block for antitrust reasons.
Since then, Ryanair has moved to assuage the concerns about competition. The carrier lined up buyers for various operations and routes.
Even so, regulators notified Ryanair on Tuesday that they would block the deal. Ryanair now says it has instructed its lawyers to “appeal any prohibition decision” to the courts.
“This decision is clearly a political one to meet the narrow, vested interests of the Irish Government and is not based on competition law,” Ryanair said in a statement.
Aer Lingus supported regulators’ decision. The Irish carrier highlighted it it was “a much stronger airline today than it was at the time of the previous Ryanair offers” and it was the only rival on a large number of routes.
“The reasons for prohibition are therefore even stronger in this instance than with the previous offers,” Aer Lingus said in a statement. “Therefore, it was and remains Aer Lingus’ position that the offer should never have been made.”