Ryanair confident on Aer Lingus takeover decision

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Ryanair is confident that it has met all of the European Commission's competition concerns relating to its proposed takeover of fellow Irish operator Aer Lingus through its remedies package.

The budget carrier, which holds a 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus after its first aborted takeover attempt in 2007, launched a fresh bid for the airline last summer.

European regulators put the brakes on the move after launching a full probe into the deal amid competition concerns, largely focussed on overlapping routes out of Ireland.

Ryanair in November said it had submitted an "unprecedented" remedies package to the Commission, involving multiple up-front buyers prepared to base aircraft or operate on 42 of the 47 cross-over routes identified.

In an update on 28 January it confirms that its remedies package includes two upfront buyers basing aircraft in Ireland to takeover and operate a "substantial" part of the Aer Lingus short-haul route structure.

Ryanair would not identify the potential buyers, but earlier this month UK carrier Flybe said it was in talks with Ryanair about the possible transfer of a number of aircraft and routes as part of concessions submitted to the Commission.

"They [the Commission] were very specific about the objections they had, right down to the route," said Ryanair deputy chief executive Michael Cawley at a press conference in London. "We believe we have addressed every one of these routes."

The Commission has now pushed back its decision on the issue until 6 March. "We are confident," Cawley adds. "What we are proposing is incredibly radical and unprecedented. There have never ever been proposed this level of remedies, either in principle or practice," he says of the securing of upfront buyers.

Two prior attempts by Ryanair to acquire the Irish flag carrier failed. The Irish government has said it would not be interested in selling its 25% holding in Aer Lingus to the budget carrier under current conditions, but Ryanair says its takeover can still be successfully completed as long as its shareholding exceeds 50%.