Ryanair must keep Aer Lingus

The European Commission today banned the Irish airline Ryanair to buy national competitor Aer Lingus, because business would prevent free competition in 46 connections to and from Ireland, was announced in Brussels after several months of operation analysis. Ryanair tried unsuccessfully to overcome objections to a number of concessions. The airline has already announced it will appeal the refusal to the European Court. The transaction “would have reduced choice and probably would have led to price increases for consumers in these routes,” the Commission concluded. “The decision of the Commission protects more than 11 million Irish and European passengers traveling to and from Dublin, Cork, Knock and Shannon,” said Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. Ryanair had offered to sell part of its national connections to rivals such as Britain’s Flybe and leave routes in the London airports, but failed to satisfy the competition authorities. Almunia propuesras considered that “were simply inadequate to address the serious competition problems in the purchase would have created at least 46 routes.” The purchase would amount to some 700 million euros. Ryanair already owns almost 30 percent of Aer Lingus. Ryanair has twice tried to buy Aer Lingus. The first attempt in 2007 was also blocked by the European Union (EU) on competition issues, and self Ryanair left the second.

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