Flybe has confirmed that it is negotiating with Ryanair about the possible sale of a substantial portion of Aer Lingus's short-haul operation.
The announcement comes as the European Commission extends its review into Ryanair's proposed takeover of the Irish flag carrier, with a decision now due by 6 March.
"Flybe confirms that it is in discussion with Ryanair about the possible transfer of a number of aircraft and operating routes as part of a package of concessions Ryanair has submitted to the European Commission," the airline says.
"These discussions, however, are non-binding and non-exclusive."
It notes that any such deal would be contingent on the outcome of the Commission's investigation into the controversial takeover.
Ryanair's bid to acquire the Irish flag carrier is being closely scrutinised, with European regulators concerned about route monopolies between the UK and Ireland following any merger.
In November 2012, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said he had submitted an "unprecedented" remedy package that will maintain competition on 42 of the 47 routes identified by the Commission as problematic.
Flybe did not confirm how many of those routes it will consider taking over.
Two prior attempts by Ryanair to acquire the Irish flag carrier have failed, and the Irish government has said it would not be interested in selling its 25% holding.