Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Flybe sides with Ryanair to back latest Aer Lingus bid

Airline Flybe has admitted it has agreed to work with rival Ryanair as its chief executive Michael O'Leary mounts yet another attempt to takeover Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus.

Mr O'Leary made a €694m bid for the 70.2% of Aer Lingus which his company doesn't already own in June but needs to satisfy the European Commission that any takeover wouldn't create a monopoly on flights to and from the Republic.

He's hoping to achieve that by committing to give Flybe 43 of Aer Lingus's routes if a takeover was successful. It's not clear whether this would include any of the routes operated by Aer Lingus from Belfast.

To get agreement from Flybe, he's thought to have guaranteed it €20m a year profit on the routes and an upfront cash payment of €100m.

A statement from Flybe said it had agreed to work with Ryanair in principle but has yet to receive board level approval.

"Flybe confirms that it has reached an agreement in principle with Ryanair about the possible transfer of a number of aircraft and operating routes as part of a package of concessions Ryanair has submitted to the European Commission.

"The agreement provides for a new company to be incorporated into which the relevant business assets (including cash of €100m) and liabilities would be transferred and which Flybe would then acquire."

Key to whether Mr O'Leary's latest bid for Ryanair is successful is whether the EU consider Flybe a credible competitor, even with the addition with the extra flights.

It's thought this latest bid for Aer Lingus will be Ryanair's last.