The Irish government is ready to sell off its share in national carrier Aer Lingus – and budget airline Ryanair has been told not to apply!

Ireland’s Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has confirmed that a sale of the state’s interest in the airline is a live possibility.

The government believes the nation’s 25 per cent shareholding could raise over a hundred million dollars towards Ireland’s crippling national debt.

All state assets are currently under the microscope as the coalition government look to raise funds and cut costs.

Ryanair has said, in a statement, that it too will sell its shares in the company Transport minister Leo Varadkar has said that Aer Lingus is certainly under consideration as part of the government’s attempts to raise over two billion Euros through asset sales as it desperately battles to cut national debt.

“That stake in the past was held for strategic reasons,” said Minister Varadkar. “I don’t think that really stands anymore.”

As shares in Aer Lingus rose 6.3 per cent, to almost a dollar, Varadkar confirmed that the government would only sell to ‘the right buyer at the right price’.
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Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair already owns 30 per cent of Aer Lingus but is not considered a suitable candidate to buy out the airline under Ireland’s competition laws.

A statement from Ryanair said: “We are happy to confirm that we will not bid for the government’s stake if an offer would be unwelcome.

“Ryanair would welcome another financially strong airline/investor in Aer Lingus to help restore shareholder value.

“Should another financially strong airline/investor acquire the Government’s 25 per cent stake, Ryanair would not rule out entering into discussions with that party for the subsequent disposal of

Ryanair’s near 30 per cent stake subject to an acceptable agreement on price and maximizing shareholder value.”