By Shane McGinley
Irish carrier is looking for EU approval to purchase gov'ts 25 percent stake in flag carrier
Ryanair has offered to sell off nearly half of Aer Lingus’s short-haul business in its latest bid to secure EU approval to buy the Irish government’s 25 percent stake in the carrier, it was reported on Wednesday.
Low cost Ryanair submitted a new proposal to the European Commission last week, which includes an offer to sell 46 of Aer Lingus’s short-haul routes to rival airlines, believed to include Flybe and British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group, sources told Bloomberg.
Ryanair currently owns 30 percent of Aer Lingus and has made several failed attempts to buy the Irish government’s €694m (US$923m), 25 percent stake. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways holds a 2.987 percent stake as part of its international collection of minority shareholdings, which also include part ownerships of airberlin, Virgin Australia and Air Seychelles.
In October, Etihad CEO James Hogan said the airline would consider buying the Irish government's 25 percent stake, but so far it had not been approached with an offer.
"If the Irish government approached us to look at the stake, then we would do so. But they have still not approached us," he said. At the time, he declined to comment on whether Etihad would sell its stake in Aer Lingus to Ryanair.