Ryanair criticises 'merger rules' on news of airline takeover
LOW-cost airline Ryanair claimed the takeover of BMI (British Midland) by British Airways parent IAG would be approved by European and British regulators.
It claimed this was in stark contrast to the European Commission's 2007 decision to block Ryanair taking over Aer Lingus.
"As ever, it appears there's one set of merger rules for flag-carrier airlines in Europe and a different set of rules applied by the EU Commission and the OFT for Ryanair," the Dublin-based airline claimed.
Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara said it would be interesting to see how quickly the European Commission and the UK's Office of Fair Trading "rubber-stamps" this takeover.
The Dublin-headquartered airline said there was no basis for Richard Branson's objections to the BA/BMI merger.
Mr Branson's comments about monopolies were hard to reconcile with Virgin Atlantic's previous involvement in price-fixing agreements with British Airways and other flag carriers, Mr McNamara said.
"There is a remarkable contradiction in the UK and European regulatory authorities' opposition to Ryanair's five-year-old failed offer for Aer Lingus, which would have given a joint Ryanair/Aer Lingus around 40pc of the available slots at the empty Dublin Airport.
"Yet they will quickly rubberstamp the BA/BMI merger, which will give IAG control over 53pc of the slots at the heavily congested and slot-restricted London Heathrow Airport," Mr McNamara claimed. Ryanair said the IAG/BMI deal was a logical development in the consolidation of Europe's major airlines.
"It will be approved in exactly the same way we believe that a Ryanair/Aer Lingus merger should have been permitted in 2007, in order to secure Aer Lingus's future," the airline claimed.