Budget airline Ryanair, of the standing room-only cabins idea, has big plans for its Irish rival Aer Lingus. But it can’t get down to that happy future of slashing customer comfort and stripping the flying experience down to bare bones just yet because the European Union has blocked its third attempt to acquire its competitor.
The EU says if the two were to merge, competition would be stifled and create an environment of less choice for travelers looking to fly in Europe. Ryanair is miffed, saying it’d offered an “unprecedented” package of concessions in this third go around, reports Wall Street Journal, and thinks this appeal to the EU General Court will do the trick.
But the commission thinks the $906.4 million takeover would affect 11 million passengers poorly, namely those traveling to and from the Irish cities of Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Knock.
“In the end, the most likely outcome of this transaction would have been quite simple. When flying to and from Ireland, passengers would not have been able to choose from as many options as they can today and they would have ended up paying higher fares,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia told reporters in Brussels.
Any attempt to prevent that from happening has simply been “inadequate” said the commission. The Irish government holds a 25% stake in Aer Lingus — compared to Ryanair’s current 30% stake — and is also against the merger.
Ryanair is pouting a bit, saying it had found upfront buyers to take over the 46 crossover routes and come up with other ways to address antitrust issues.
“We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns and we believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically inspired prohibition,” said a Ryanair spokesman. “Accordingly, Ryanair has instructed its legal advisers to prepare a comprehensive appeal against this manifestly unjust prohibition.”
Ryanair to Appeal Blocked Aer Lingus Bid [Wall Street Journal]