BRUSSELS Feb 1 Ryanair has one last
chance to argue the merits of its latest attempt to acquire
Irish rival Aer Lingus, the European Union's antitrust
chief said on Friday, as he prepares to decide the deal's fate.
Europe's leading low-cost carrier is making its third
takeover bid for Aer Lingus after the European Commission
blocked its first attempt in 2007 and Ryanair dropped its second
Ryanair submitted a third set of proposals to the EU
competition authority last month. Among them were a promise to
cede 43 routes to British-based rival Flybe and three
of Aer Lingus's Heathrow routes to British Airways, a person
familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier.
The Commission, which acts as competition authority in the
27-member European Union, has since sought feedback from rivals
and other interested parties on those proposals.
Asked if Ryanair would need to offer more concessions, or if
it still had time to do so, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin
Almunia told Reuters: "There is one more time to discuss it."
He declined to elaborate.
The Commission has set a March 6 deadline for a decision.
Ryanair has signed a non-binding agreement with British
Airways as part of its plan to acquire Aer Lingus. It is now in
non-binding talks with Flybe about a transfer of aircraft and
An antitrust lawyer said striking binding deals with both
rivals could tip the Commission's decision in Ryanair's favour,
as that would show all the carriers are committed to the