Enter multiple symbols separated by commas

Ryanair Boss Slams EU Aer Lingus Veto as Political

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary on Tuesday slammed a European Commission plan to veto its attempt to take over Irish rival Aer Lingus, calling the move politically motivated to appease Dublin.

The European Commission plans to veto the bid by Europe's biggest budget airline on Wednesday, sources familiar with the issue have said.

O'Leary reiterated he would appeal against the expected decision at the EU's Court of First Instance.

"This decision is politically motivated, designed to appease the narrow interests of the Irish government, which was the only party -- other than Aer Lingus itself -- to object to the merger," O'Leary told reporters.

"The decision is manifestly in error since it is based on the Commission's inaccurate claim that there are barriers to entry at Dublin Airport," he said.

The European Commission has denied it was influenced by political pressure over the deal.

Shares in Ryanair were 1.1% weaker at 4.95 euros, in line with similar losses on the broader Irish market. Aer Lingus shares were up 2.1% at 2.12 euros.

Ryanair's 1.48 billion euro ($1.97 billion) bid lapsed automatically in December when authorities decided to conduct the in-depth investigation, but the company has said it intended to return with a second offer.

Ryanair's hostile bid was made shortly after Aer Lingus's stock market listing last year. The bid faced an uphill struggle from the start amid opposition from key shareholders, including the Irish government, which remains Aer Lingus's biggest shareholder with a stake of just over 25%.

Both airlines are based at Dublin Airport and serve a market where few others have shown an interest in establishing a base.

O'Leary said Ryanair would "oppose any attempt" by the Commission to require it to dispose of its 25% stake in Aer Lingus.

The Commission has laid the groundwork to force O'Leary to cut back or sell all of that holding and will decide later whether to do so.

Ryanair offered proposals in the past it has said could ensure competition, but they were never enough to satisfy the Commission. Among them were an offer to sell Aer Lingus's slots at London's Heathrow and Dublin for flights between the two airports.

Contact U.S. News


    Get the best of CNBC in your inbox

    Please choose a subscription

    Please enter a valid email address
    To learn more about how we use your information,
    please read our Privacy Policy.

Don't Miss

  • Why women cheat?

    Is cheating bad? Why do women cheat? The founder and CEO of affair website Ashley Madison tells all, including why he has his eye on China.

  • Judge's gavel

    The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority disciplined several financial services firms and individuals in May 2015.

  • Fine wines & finance

    Why you should try something a little different on date night. Bring the romance and champagne, and a calculator too. Every once in a while have a date to talk money and finance, and keep an important part of your relationship on track. Reporter Sharon Epperson talks to a couple who does just that.

U.S. Video

  • Cramer: Here's a sign the market could rally

    Wall Street's been soaking in red, but "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer has one signal to watch for that could point to another run.

  • Burger war maneuvers

    Cramer looks at the number of company's selling burgers and tries to determine the quality names, as well as those to avoid.

  • Cramer: What's driving defense?

    Cramer says that even though President Obama has made it clear the US can no longer be the world's policeman, the country can become the world's arms dealer. Profiting from defense spending.