Ryanair Files Complaint Over Aer Lingus Comments

January 7, 2009

Irish airline Ryanair said on Wednesday it had lodged a complaint with the regulator over comments made by its rival Aer Lingus which once again rejected the carrier's EUR750 million euros (USD$1.02 billion) bid.

The two airlines said on Wednesday they had held talks on Tuesday over Ryanair's bid.

"Aer Lingus explained to Ryanair at the meeting how the bid fundamentally undervalues the airline, its robust financial position, ignores the substantial competition issues and is therefore not capable of completion," Aer Lingus said.

Ryanair said it had lodged a complaint with Ireland's Takeover Panel over the Aer Lingus comments in the latest spat between the two groups.

"The reality is that the new Ryanair offer is capable of completion, and Aer Lingus' claims to the contrary are false and in breach of takeover rules," chief executive Michael O'Leary said in a statement.

"As a result, Ryanair has made a formal complaint to the Takeover Panel in relation to these repeated breaches of the takeover rules."

There was minimal acceptance from Aer Lingus investors of an initial January 5 offer deadline, which Ryanair on Tuesday extended to February 13.

It has offered 1.40 euros a share for Aer Lingus, just half the price of a previous offer in 2006 which was blocked by the European Commission on competition grounds.

O'Leary, who has held talks with the Irish government and Aer Lingus employees -- the carrier's two other major shareholders -- has said he remained confident the offer would succeed.

Ryanair said separately on Wednesday it had taken advantage of recent falls in fuel prices to cover half of its needs for the first three quarters of its 2009/10 fiscal year at USD$700 per tonne, equivalent to about USD$64 per barrel of crude oil.

"This will lock in a 42 percent reduction of our hedged fuel cost per passenger compared to fiscal 2008/09, and will enable Ryanair to continue to grow traffic and reduce fares, during these recessionary times, when most airlines are increasing them," O'Leary said.

Aer Lingus said on Tuesday that as of December 31 it had 72 percent of its 2009 fuel needs covered at a price of USD$911 per tonne and 22 percent cover for 2010 at a price of USD$876 per tonne.

AirWise, © Ascent Pacific 2009

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