Ryanair may mount a legal challenge if its bid to buy Irish rival Aer Lingus is blocked by the European Union but it will not pursue further acquisitions if the merger ultimately fails, its chief executive said yesterday.
Michael O’Leary, who in 20 years has grown Ryanair from six planes to 300, is trying for the third time to buy Ireland’s once dominant airline.
The EU says the deal may curb competition. O’Leary said if the effort fails, the airline will focus on growing organically and take advantage of the “enormous” opportunities created by the rapid deterioration in the finances of European legacy airlines like Iberia and SAS.
“If it is not approved I can always appeal to the European courts,” O’Leary said.
“If they don’t allow this, we’ll just have to give up and grow organically,” he said.
The European Commission, which is due to make a decision on whether to approve the merger early next year, this week published its objections to the tie-up.
The statement was seen by some analysts as a set-back for Ryanair’s bid but O’Leary said the EU move was a procedural step which did not necessarily mean additional remedies were required.
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