The European Commission on Wednesday said Ryanair's third takeover attempt of Aer Lingus, worth $904 million, would be blocked because consolidation would harm air travelers by creating a monopoly of 46 regional routes. Ryanair currently holds almost 30 percent of Aer Lingus; the Irish government holds a 25 percent stake.
"The Commission's decision protects more than 11 million Irish and European passengers who travel each year to and from Dublin, Cork, Knock and Shannon. For them, the acquisition of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would have most likely led to higher fares," said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquín Almunia.
Ryanair responded immediately, saying it would appeal and denied the European Commission’s claim it would control all of Ireland's main commercial passenger routes. The company said under the proposed deal Britain's Flybe Group PLC (LON:FLYB) would have taken over 43 Aer Lingus routes.
Ryanair had previously sought to acquire Aer Lingus in 2006 and 2007.