Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has confirmed the airline intends to bid for the five slots at Gatwick relinquished by IAG as part of its takeover deal of Aer Lingus.
Earlier this week, The European Commission approved the British Airways owner’s £1.3 billion takeover of the Irish carrier but said it must relinquish five of its Gatwick slots due to fears over unfair competition.
It followed Ryanair’s acceptance of an offer for its 29.8 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.
“We welcome the proposals by IAG that they would surrender some slots in Gatwick,” O’Leary told reporters in Brussels yesterday. “We will certainly be bidding for the slots and we would certainly want to expand services we offer at Gatwick.”
Two of the slots must be operated between Dublin and Gatwick, and one between Belfast and Gatwick. The two remaining slots can be used to serve either Dublin or Belfast. The EC will decide on which airline receives the slots.
Ireland’s minister for transport Paschal Donohoe welcomed the commission’s approval. He suggested that once it was confirmed it would have no effect on the connectivity commitments, the State would formally accept IAG’s offer.
Ryanair has said it will move its base in Copenhagen to Kaunas in Lithuania after trade unions said they would go ahead with strike action over working conditions.
The Irish carrier also warned it may close its Billund base in Denmark today if planned strikes at the airport go ahead.
The unions want a Danish collective agreement for Ryanair’s staff and last month won a court ruling allowing them to take industrial action.
If it presses forward with the transfer, Ryanair will not have any bases in Denmark meaning any strike action will be illegal.
The no-frills carrier said it will continue to operate flights to and from Denmark but without any Danish collective agreement.