BRUSSELS Feb 21 EU regulators will decide next
week on Ryanair's third attempt to take over Aer Lingus
, the EU's antitrust chief said on Thursday, a decision
that Europe's top no-frills airline has already said will be
Ryanair said last week the European Commission, which
oversees competition in the 27 EU member states, would block its
latest takeover bid for Aer Lingus, criticising such a move as
political and one it would challenge in court.
The Commission will announce its decision next week, EU
Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told Reuters.
"The decision is on Feb. 27," he told Reuters, without
giving details of the outcome.
A veto would be Almunia's fourth rejection of a proposed
merger in three years. Last month he blocked plans by world
leading package delivery company UPS to acquire Dutch
rival TNT Express.
Ryanair had offered to pay 100 million euros, transfer nine
planes and cede 43 routes to strengthen British rival Flybe
in a bid to secure EU regulatory
The proposal included Flybe setting up an Irish airline,
with Ryanair providing forward sales cash and liabilities worth
around 50 million euros.
A source close to the deal said Ryanair was also willing to
give up Aer Lingus' routes at London's Gatwick Airport to
The EU competition authority blocked Ryanair's first
takeover bid in 2007. The airline abandoned a second attempt in
The Irish government, which holds a 25 percent stake in Aer
Lingus, opposes Ryanair's bid.