EU regulators block Ryanair's third bid for Aer Lingus

BRUSSELS Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:30am EST

BRUSSELS Feb 27 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators blocked Ryanair's third attempt to buy Irish rival Aer Lingus on Wednesday, saying the bid by Europe's top no-frills airline could hurt competition and lead to higher prices for passengers.

Ryanair had already flagged the European Commission's rejection of the 694-million-euro ($907 million) bid for Aer Lingus earlier this month. The EU executive vetoed its first takeover attempt in 2007.

"For (Irish and European passengers), the acquisition of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would have most likely led to higher fares," EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement.

"Those proposals (from Ryanair) were simply inadequate to solve the very serious competition problems which this acquisition would have created on no less than 46 routes," he said.