Tuesday, February 12 14:04:10
According to Ryanair, the European Commission has told Ryanair it will reject the low-cost carrier's attempt to take over Aer Lingus.
Ryanair described the decision as unfair and political.
But European Commission said a final decision had not yet been taken.
Ryanair, which has indicated that this third bid for Aer Lingus would be its last, said it would launch an appeal in European courts against the decision by the Commission, which acts as the European Union's competition authority.
"It appears clear from this morning's meeting that no matter what remedies Ryanair offered we were not going to get a fair hearing and were going to be prohibited regardless of competition rules," Ryanair spokesman Robin Kiely said in a statement following a meeting with Commission representatives.
"This decision is clearly a political one to meet the narrow, vested interests of the Irish government and is not based on competition law," he said.
The government, which has said it is against the merger, declined to comment, as did an Aer Lingus spokesman.
Aer Lingus's shares were 5 percent lower at 1.27 euros by lunchtime, when Ryanair's shares were unchanged at 5.67 euros.
Ryanair, Europe's biggest budget airline, was told last month that it had one last chance to submit measures to ensure the proposed 694 million-euro merger did not reduce competition.
Ryanair's latest offer to the Commission included ceding 43 routes to Flybe and hand to British Airways the routes Aer Lingus operates from London's Gatwick Airport.
The Commission blocked Ryanair's first attempt to take over Aer Lingus in 2007 and Ryanair dropped its second in 2009.
"The Commission will take a decision in this case at the end of February or the beginning of March," said a spokesman for EU competition chief Joaquin Almunia, declining to comment further on the Ryanair statement.