Bad news for Michael O'Leary, CEO of the Irish low cost airline Ryanair. According to the Irish Times, Ryanair has been notified that the EU Commission plans to reject the company's attempt to takeover Irish national carrier Aer Lingus.
Undaunted, Ryanair says it will appeal the decision in the European courts, maintaining it is 'being held to a much higher standard than any other EU airline' and describing the decision as political and unfair. However the European Commission said a final decision had not yet been taken.
Ryanair added that it had 'met every competition concern raised' by the EU during the process. The airline’s head of communications Robin Kiely told the Times, '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 were going to be prohibited regardless of competition rules.'
Ryanair, which has previously indicated that this third bid for Aer Lingus would be its last, has now said it would launch an appeal in European courts against the decision by the Commission, which acts as the European Union's competition authority.
'This decision is clearly a political one to meet the narrow, vested interests of the Irish government and is not based on competition law,' Keily added.
The Irish government, which has said it is against the merger, has declined to comment, as did an Aer Lingus spokesman.
Ryanair, Europe's biggest budget airline, was told last month that it had one last chance to submit measures to ensure the proposed $932 million merger did not reduce competition.
Ryanair's latest offer to the Commission included ceding 43 routes to Flybe and handing to British Airways the routes Aer Lingus operates from London's Gatwick Airport.
The Commission reportedly blocked Ryanair's first attempt to take over Aer Lingus in 2007 and Ryanair dropped its second attempt in 2009.
'The Commission will take a decision in this case at the end of February or the beginning of March,' said a spokesman for EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia.