Ryanair is proving to be extremely persistent in its pursuit of would-be life partner, the reluctant Aer Lingus.
After having its amorous advances quashed by both Aer Lingus and the European Commission last year, an undeterred Ryanair has made a fresh approach, this time flatteringly offering to acquire Aer Lingus for half what it offered the last time around. There’s nothing like making someone feel good about themself!
Aer Lingus appears to be continuing to play hard to get, offering no public comment apart from to urge its shareholders to take no action.
But it looks like Ryanair is ready to play hard ball, with the carrier’s chief executive Michael O’Leary telling Aer Lingus that it is “isolated” – for that read “on the shelf” or “spinster” - and “uncompetitive”, and has “few realistic third-party alternatives”. In other words, “no one else wants you, you old boiler. This is the best offer you’re gonna get”.
Ryanair claims that if it succeeds in taking over Aer Lingus, the resulting airline would be “one of Europe’s ‘big four’”. Presumably it classes British Airways, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa as the other three big hitters, and is keen to follow their lead and jump on the acquisition trail.
It’ll be interesting to see what becomes of Ryanair’s latest bid. Will the two rivals end up together after such a tumultuous courtship? And if they don’t, what, realistically, are Aer Lingus’ chances of survival?