Ryanair has announced plans to mount a fresh takeover bid for Aer Lingus in a move that it says will create "one strong Irish airline group".
Ryanair, which already owns almost 30% of its rival, says it will be offering €1.40 per share through its wholly owned subsidiary, Coinside Ltd.
It says this represents a premium of around 28% over the average closing price during the 30 days up to November 28th.
Ryanair says it plans to merge the two airlines, but keep them operating as separate entities with distinctive brands.
If the merger is successful, it also says it would double the size of Aer Lingus's short-haul fleet and create 1,000 new jobs in the airline.
Ryanair says a merged entity would establish Aer Lingus/Ryanair as one of Europe's big-four airlines, managed and headquartered in Dublin.
Aer Lingus said it will make a statement in due course, but in the meantime it urged its shareholders to take no action.
Shares in the airline rose 14% today.
Threatened strike action at Aer Lingus, which is attempting to implement a controversial €74m cost-cutting programme, was called off last week after a framework was hammered out with union bosses to deliver €50m of those savings on staffing costs without outsourcing 1,300 jobs.
The Siptu trade union, which represents the majority of Aer Lingus workers, described Ryanair’s proposal as just another attempt at mischief-making.
Aer Lingus branch organiser Teresa Hannick said the initiative directly contradicts all Ryanair’s talk over the years about the necessity for competition in Ireland’s airline industry.
“Doubtless, the initiative was originally designed to coincide with a dispute in Aer Lingus,” said Ms Hannick.
“However, workers and management in Aer Lingus have managed to formulate a proposal to save the airline, frustrate Ryanair’s monopoly ambitions, continue to promote choice in the Irish airline industry and maintain some semblance of civilised working conditions.”