THESE are the main stories in the business sections this morning:
*Ryanair could begin transatlantic flights to as many as 14 US cities in the next five years under a new business plan approved by the airline’s board.
The company said that it would like to offer flights to between 12 and 14 European cities and a similar number of US destinations, with Dublin and London Stansted likely to be among the European hubs.
The airline has begun talks with aircraft manufacturers about long-haul aircrafts. A contract for the aircrafts is likely to either go to Boeing, its current supplier, or European manufacturer Airbus.
*Shares in Ireland’s biggest company CRH fell by over 4pc yesterday after a deal to buy as as much as €6.5bn worth of its rivals assets was thrown into doubt.
Swiss cement firm Holcim was due to merge with French rival Lafarge in a deal which would have seen Lefarge shareholders receiving one Holicom share for each Lefarge share. However, the merger is now in doubt as Holicom has said that it is no longer willing to go ahead with the deal in its current form after recently outperforming Lefarge.
CRH had recently agreed to buy €6.5bn worth of the two companies assets cast-offs, however a spokesperson for Lefarge told the Irish Independent that the sale is conditional on the merger taking place.
*A “disappointing” series of half year results saw shares tumble by over 11pc in Swiss-Irish bakery group Aryzta yesterday.
In the six months to the end of January the company saw revenues grow by 13.6pc to €2.39bn, with sales in North America up by over 30pc.
However, this was still below market expectations, with analysts at both Davy and Goodbody branding the results as “disappointing” and “below expectations”.
*Germany has one of the hottest stock markets in the world right now as the main DAX index smashed through 12,000 points yesterday to trade at a record high.
The index has surged by 23pc since the start of the year, with analysts saying the main driver behind the new record level had been the launch of the European Central Bank €1.1tn quantitative easing programme.
Andrew Parry, head of equities at Hermes Investment Management, said: “Fundamentally Germany was already doing well as an economy, it didn’t need quantitative easing — so it is getting an extra bit of oomph free and gratis.”
*Despite the economic recovery, one symbol of the boom is still not making a comeback as sales of champagne dropped last year, the Irish Times reports.
Sales of champagne have dropped from €7.06m in 2013 to €6.68m last year, with the number of bottles shipped from France to Ireland fell from 415,604 to 388,628.
The paper reports that this is a serious decline since peak sales in 2007, when Irish buyers splashed out €18m on 1.08m bottles of bubbly.
*A single landlord took in €690,000 from the State last year in rent supplement payments, the paper also reports.
Figures released to the Irish Times show that this amount is more than the amounts taken in by the second and third highest paid landlords combined, €284,000 and €270,000 respectively.
However this is not representative of the vast majority of landlords, 94pc of whom had three tenancies or fewer.
*Taoiseach Enda Kenny has played down expectations of soft October budget, saying that it will not be a giveaway and adding spending will be slow and measured, the Irish Examiner reports.
His comments come after a speech given by Tanaiste Joan Burton yesterday asked that Ireland be allowed spend any surplus exchequer funds in the domestic economy rather than paying down debt.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner however, Mr Kenny said: “The budget in October is not going to be one where there’s a whole series of giveaways. We don’t have the capacity to do that. It will be slow and measured in terms of the progress that we’ve made.”
*New grocery market share figures show that SuperValu has almost drawn level with Tesco as Ireland’s market leader.
The new data shows that Tesco’s 25pc stake of the market is just marginally ahead if SuperValu’s 24.9pc. Dunnes Stores was the fastest grower over the 12 to the start of March, with sales increasing by 6.5pc as the overall market grew by just 1.8pc.
Discount retailers Lidl and Aldi are still showing strong signs of growth, both growing at a rate of more than 10pc and now accounting for a combined 16.7pc share of the market.
*The five-star Dromoland Castle hotel has stopped plans by service station business Applegreen to extend its national network of motorway service areas into Co Clare.
This follows Clare County Council refusing Applegreen planning permission for a motorway service area on the Limerick-Ennis motorway to be located near the luxury hotel.
The local authority refused permission to the development after a strong objection from Dromoland Castle Holdings against the plan.