EU competition regulators have blocked Ryanair’s third attempt to acquire its Irish rival Aer Lingus.
Europe’s biggest low-cost airline called the ruling politically motivated and vowed to challenge it in court.
The European Commission said a merger could hurt competition, leading to higher fares and the Dublin-based carrier had not offered enough concessions to address its concerns about the merged company’s dominance or monopoly on 46 routes where the two airlines currently compete.
Brussels rejected Ryanair’s plans to divest some of Aer Lingus’ routes to British airline Flybe and British Airways saying that would not have ensured sufficient competition.
Ryanair rejected the Commission’s arguments, saying it had proposed an unprecedented and revolutionary package of concessions to allay regulatory concerns.“We believe that we have strong grounds for appealing and overturning this politically-inspired prohibition,” Ryanair said in a statement. “We regret that this prohibition is manifestly motivated by narrow political interests rather than competition concerns… Accordingly, Ryanair has instructed its legal advisers to prepare a comprehensive appeal.”