By Andy Sambidge
Irish carrier said to ask six airlines to operate services on Aer Lingus routes - FT
Ireland's Ryanair has asked at least six airlines, including Abu Dhabi's Etihad, to operate alternative services on some Aer Lingus routes, as it seeks regulatory approval for a $850m takeover of its domestic rival, it was reported on Tuesday.
The Financial Times reported that Ryanair, which already owns 30 percent of Aer Lingus, could face opposition to the deal from the European Commission, due to risks over a substantial reduction in competition.
Budget airline Ryanair has asked rival airlines to consider providing competition on routes to and from Dublin where the two Irish carriers are the leading or only providers.
Some of the six have expressed limited or no interest in operating services to Ireland, the FT said.
It has approached Air France-KLM, easyJet, Etihad Airways, Flybe, International Airlines Group and Virgin Atlantic, the paper said.
The European Commission is expected to make a decision on the bid by Wednesday.
On Monday, it was reported that a senior Irish Government official had said no talks have been held with Etihad Airways over the possible sale of the state's 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus.
Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, said in comments published by the Irish Times: “We haven’t had any negotiations with Etihad on the disposal of the Government’s stake. I have met with the CEO of Etihad but on a number of issues, not specifically that, and that was some months ago.”
Earlier this month Etihad announced it was interested in buying Ryanair’s almost 30 percent stake in Aer Lingus.