Ryanair confirms interest in Aer Lingus
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary confirmed the LCC is “open to talks on buying the Irish Government's Aer Lingus share”, which sits at 25% (BreakingNews.ie/The Guardian, 03-May-2011). Ryanair has a 29.8% share in Aer Lingus and has previously had two takeover bids for the carrier turned down. The European Commission supported the Irish government's warning that a takeover would be bad for consumers and blocked any deal between Ryanair and Aer Lingus, arguing that 14 million passengers a year would be hit by higher fares. The Royal Bank of Scotland has downplayed the LCC’s renewed interest, saying that a government sale of 25% of Aer Lingus would have a “negligible impact on Ireland's debt burden”, and the European Commission would block any stake sale to Ryanair, even if the Irish government was in favour of the sale. Christoph Mueller, Aer Lingus's CEO, has stated Ryanair’s 29.8% is like a "poison pill", in that it wards off other interested parties and complicates any attempt to join a global alliance.