Ryanair will bid for five IAG slots at Gatwick
Ryanair has been given the all-clear by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to sell its 29.8pc stake in Aer Lingus to IAG, removing another possible hurdle to the €1.36bn takeover of the former state-owned airline.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has also confirmed that the airline intends to bid for take-off and landing slots at London’s Gatwick airport that will have to be relinquished by IAG as part of a deal with the European Commission to allow the Aer Lingus takeover to go ahead.
The European Commission said on Tuesday that it is sanctioning the Aer Lingus takeover, but that to allay competition concerns IAG will surrender five daily take-off and landing slots at Gatwick as one of two concessions.
Two of the slots must be operated between Dublin and Gatwick, and one between Belfast and Gatwick. The two remaining slots can be used to serve either Dublin or Belfast. The European Commission oversees which airline gets control of the slots.
“We welcome the proposals by IAG that they would surrender some slots in Gatwick,” said Mr O’Leary in Brussels yesterday. “We will certainly be bidding for the slots and we would certainly want to expand services we offer at Gatwick.”
Ryanair pulled its services from Belfast City Airport in 2010 following delays to a planned runway extension.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday welcomed the EC decision to hand IAG Gatwick slots over to competitors. He said he has “absolutely every confidence” that the routes between Gatwick, Dublin and Belfast will be maintained in the future.
Aer Lingus shareholders will vote at an extraordinary general meeting in Dublin this morning on whether or not to accept the IAG takeover bid.
But with the Government, Ryanair and Etihad having already pledged to sell their combined 60pc stakes, the deal is now virtually certain to go ahead. Aer Lingus could be part of IAG as early as next month.
Mr O’Leary, sporting his right arm in a sling, was in Brussels to defend Ryanair’s treatment of its staff. He told MEPs that the airline is a quality employer with an unblemished safety record.
“The meeting was frank and forthright and MEPs left no doubt with Ryanair as to where their concerns lie,” said Ireland south MEP Deirdre Clune. Danish MEPs criticised Ryanair at the meeting.