Aer Lingus has noted Ryanair’s announcement earlier today that it has been notified by the European Commission that the EC intends to prohibit Ryanair’s offer for Aer Lingus.
In a statement, the airline said: “Aer Lingus has not received any notification from the EC of an intention to prohibit the offer. Nonetheless, based upon Ryanair’s announcement, Aer Lingus comments as follows:
“As indicated in our statement of 20 June 2012 at the outset of the bid, there was significant uncertainty that the offer from Ryanair was ever capable of completion. Ryanair’s first attempt to take over Aer Lingus was prohibited in 2007 on competition grounds. Aer Lingus is a much stronger airline today than it was at the time of the previous Ryanair offers and is Ryanair’s only significant competitor on the vast majority of Irish air routes. The number of routes into and out of Ireland on which Aer Lingus and Ryanair compete has sharply increased since 2007.
“The reasons for prohibition are therefore even stronger in this instance than with the previous offers. Therefore, it was and remains Aer Lingus’ position that the offer should never have been made.
“As indicated on 6 February 2013, in our preliminary results announcement, Aer Lingus delivered an excellent overall performance in 2012. During 2012, the company increased operating profit, total revenue, passenger numbers, average yields, load factors and market share. Aer Lingus is well positioned for future growth and continues to implement its successful ‘value carrier’ business model. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and to providing choice for consumers in the markets we serve.
“Following Ryanair’s announcement regarding the EC investigation, Aer Lingus looks forward to continuing to assist the UK Competition Commission (UKCC) in its ongoing investigation into the anti-competitive effects of Ryanair’s minority shareholding. On 15 June 2012, the Office of Fair Trading referred Ryanair’s minority shareholding to the UKCC for review, concluding that: “there is a realistic prospect that its stake has resulted or will result in a substantial lessening of competition” .
“Ryanair has on a number of occasions attempted to halt this separate UKCC investigation, including by means of its third hostile takeover offer. Aer Lingus now looks forward to the conclusion of the UKCC investigation. As indicated previously it is Aer Lingus’ position that Ryanair, as our largest competitor, should be required to divest its shareholding in Aer Lingus.”
Ryanair to Appeal Any Prohibition Decision
Ryanair said that it was notified this morning (12th February), at a State of Play meeting with the EU Commission, that the EU Commission intends to prohibit Ryanair’s offer for Aer Lingus. “Ryanair has today instructed its lawyers to appeal any prohibition decision to the European Courts,” the airline said.