British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG) is buying Irish national carrier Aer Lingus, after Ryanair rolled over and accepted the deal.
IAG has targetted Irish national carrier Aer Lingus for months. Its latest €1.36 billion (£961 million) bid was OK’d by the Irish government in late May, leaving Aer Lingus’ biggest shareholder Ryanair the only obstacle.
Budget airline Ryanair owns 29.8% of Aer Lingus and many thought it would try to block the bid. Ryanair has made three unsuccessful attempts to buy Aer Lingus. It is currently under orders from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority to sell its stake, something Ryanair heavily contested.
But Ryanair said today that it has “voted unanimously” to accept the bid from IAG, which owns British Airways and Spanish airline Iberia.
Ryanair’s colourful CEO Michael O’Leary said in a statement today: “We believe the IAG offer for Aer Lingus is a reasonable one in the current market and we plan to accept it, in the best interests of Ryanair shareholders. The price means that Ryanair will make a small profit on its investment in Aer Lingus over the past 9 years.”
But he couldn’t resist a parting dig, adding: “We wish IAG well with their takeover of Aer Lingus. When Ryanair first bid for Aer Lingus in late 2006, Ryanair (36m passengers) carried 4 times Aer Lingus traffic (9m). Today Ryanair (over 100m) carries more than 10 times Aer Lingus traffic (10m), and we will continue to deliver the vast majority of Ireland’s traffic and tourism growth in the coming months and years.”