* Government rebuff a blow to Ryanair
* Ultimate decision lies with European Commission
* Ryanair says has offered "unprecedented remedies package"
By Padraic Halpin
DUBLIN, Dec 18 The Irish government has decided
to oppose Ryanair's bid to take over Aer Lingus
after studying details of the plan, the country's transport
minister said on Tuesday in a blow to the budget airline's
The European Commission, which is probing the 694 million
euro ($917 million) bid on competition grounds and will have the
ultimate say early next year, sent Ryanair a list of objections
to the tie-up last month.
Ryanair has offered fresh concessions, which include an
offer to sell some of Aer Lingus' landing slots at London's
Heathrow airport to British Airways and slots elsewhere to Flybe
, according to a person familiar with the matter.
"The Ryanair offer and at least the remedies that are being
reported are not sufficient in our view, so we won't support
their bid and, in addition, won't co-operate with their remedies
package," Transport Minister Leo Varadkar told journalists.
"The Commission will make its own decision, but we have
given our views and they are around connectivity, competition
and employment. We don't see any advantages for Ireland in
what's being proposed and we see very significant potential
Varadkar, who reiterated the government's intention to sell
its own 25 percent stake in the former state carrier and said
advisers will be appointed in the New Year, would not comment on
what aspects of the remedies package the government opposed.
When asked about the remedies package, BA, which is part of
the International Consolidated Airlines Group, said it
had signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with
Ryanair which is subject to EC approval as part of the review of
the Ryanair-Aer Lingus deal.
Ryanair, which already owns 30 percent of Aer Lingus, said
in a statement that as Dublin owns just 25 percent of the once
dominant airline, it has no power to block the offer, adding
that it had submitted an "unprecedented remedies package".
In its first package of concessions, Ryanair secured
commitments from airlines to set up bases in Dublin, and said it
would scrap some routes it and Aer Lingus currently fly from
The Commission blocked Ryanair's first takeover bid for Aer
Lingus in 2007. The Irish budget airline dropped a second offer