Ryanair is refusing to comment on reports that it has promised to drop some Aer Lingus routes from Dublin if it is allowed to take over the airline.
Ryanair issued a statement last night dismissing the reports in the Irish press that it had made the offer to the European Commission which is investigating its stake in Aer Lingus as "rumour and speculation".
However, it did not deny it was in talks with the European Commission about pulling Aer Lingus from a series of routes to allow a number of major airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, to offer competing services from Dublin.
It is believed Ryanair hopes the deal will prevent the European Commission from blocking its latest takeover bid on competition grounds. The Commission refused Ryanair's earlier attempt to gain control of Aer Lingus in 2006, saying it would create "a monopoly or a dominant position" on 35 routes operated by both airlines.
Separately, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has expressed an interest in Ryanair's existing 29.82% stake in Aer Lingus. The Middle Eastern airline, which already owns 3% of Aer Lingus and has discussed buying the 25% still held by the Irish Government, said it was keen to strengthen its partnership with the airline.
By Linsey McNeill
Friday, August 17, 2012
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