EINDHOVEN: Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said he is confident the European Commission will accept a package of remedies offered to obtain approval for its proposed acquisition of Irish rival Aer Lingus.
The concessions to EU antitrust regulators were submitted on Friday after earlier proposals by the airline failed to soothe competition concerns over its third bid to buy Aer Lingus.
O’Leary told Reuters in an interview that if the proposed deal is reviewed “on the same basis as all other flag carrier airline mergers it’s hard to see how the Commission could turn us down.”
“When the market becomes aware the scale of the remedies we’ve offered are unprecedented in any EU airline merger then clearly it must be approved,” he said.
The European Commission said on its website on Monday it would decide by Feb.27 whether to clear or block the deal, extending its review by 15 working days.
The Commission, which acts as competition authority for the European Union, did not give details of Ryanair’s latest proposals.
O’Leary said they were fair to new competitors and included slot divestitures, but gave no further details.
The concessions are in addition to a commitment from at least two EU airlines to set up bases in Dublin, and for Ryanair to scrap some routes it and Aer Lingus currently fly from Ireland.
The Commission blocked Ryanair’s first takeover bid for Aer Lingus in 2007. The Irish budget airline dropped a second offer in 2009.
O’Leary made the comments on Tuesday after announcing that Ryanair would use Eindhoven as a base in the Netherlands, with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft operating 31 routes out of the southern city.