The European Commission intends to block Ryanair's proposed takeover of Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus, the low-cost carrier announced on 12 February.
Its lawyers have been instructed to appeal any prohibition order in the European Courts.
"Ryanair...was notified this morning, 12 February, at a state-of-play meeting with the EU Commission that the EU Commission intends to prohibit Ryanair's offer for Aer Lingus," the airline confirms.
It says the decision is "clearly a political one" designed to protect the "narrow, vested interests" of the Irish government, which holds a 25% stake in Aer Lingus and has publicly opposed Ryanair's attempted takeover.
Ryanair already owns 29% of the Irish flag carrier. Two previous attempts at lifting its stake to a majority holding were unsuccessful.
However, the low-cost carrier had voiced optimism about its latest bid after proposing what it describes as an "unprecedented" remedy package.
Its plan centred on commitments by two UK-based airlines, IAG and Flybe, to take over a large number of Aer Lingus's routes. Ryanair said that move would address all concerns voiced by Brussels about reduced competition.
"IAG has committed that they would take over divestments of Ryanair's and Aer Lingus' entire London Gatwick operations, and Flybe has committed to take over 43 Aer Lingus UK and European routes," the airline notes.
"Ryanair has no alternative but to appeal any prohibition decision, and we expect to get a fair hearing at the European Courts."
The European Commission has not formally announced the results of its investigation.
Source: Air Transport Intelligence news