Ryanair to pay Flybe to take Aer Lingus routes-source

BRUSSELS Mon Feb 4, 2013 4:57pm EST

BRUSSELS Feb 4 (Reuters) - Ryanair has offered rival Flybe 100 million euros ($136 million) to take some Aer Lingus routes off its hands, a source close to the deal said on Monday, as the European Commission prepares to decide on its 694-million-euro offer for the Irish airline.

Ryanair's latest concession to regulators follows EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia's comments to Reuters last week that Europe's top low-cost carrier has one more chance to convince him of the merits of the Aer Lingus deal.

Ryanair, which is making its third takeover attempt of Aer Lingus, needs to make concessions that would retain healthy competition in air transport from to and from Ireland.

"The 100 million euros is tied to Flybe's performance. If it over performs, Flybe will pay back Ryanair," the source said, adding Ryanair has also offered nine planes to Flybe.

Flybe is a low-cost regional airline group operating over 180 routes to 65 European airports and is Europe's largest regional airline.

The source said Ryanair has also offered Gatwick slots to British Airways on top of Aer Lingus' Heathrow slots.

Last month, a source told Reuters that Ryanair's offer to the Commission included ceding 43 routes to Flybe and three of Aer Lingus' Heathrow routes to British Airways.

The EU antitrust authority asked rivals and interested parties on Monday for feedback on Ryanair's latest concessions, the source said. They have until Thursday to reply.

The Commission has set a March 6 deadline for its decision.

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