Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair: We are not an obstacle to Aer Lingus merger

By Staff Reporter

The Irish government is the only obstacle to Aer Lingus merging with another airline, including IAG, according to Ryanair.

Ryanair, which owns 29.8% of Aer Lingus, has made the assertion in an application to the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), as the airline tries to reverse a previous decision by the watchdog to force Ryanair to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus to 5% at most.

British Airways and Iberia owner IAG, headed by Willie Walsh, has offered to buy Aer Lingus for almost €1.4bn (£1bn).

But the Irish government, which owns 25.1% of Aer Lingus, has sought additional assurances and concessions from IAG before it agrees to sell its stake.

In a letter to the CMA, Ryanair said: "The reaction of the Irish government to these (IAG) announcements has confirmed what Ryanair always said (and the Competition Commission dismissed), namely that the Irish government, and not Ryanair, represented the only obstacle to Aer Lingus' combination with any other airline."

Financial analysts expect that Ryanair would be willing to sell.

Belfast Telegraph