Etihad Airways has expressed its is interested in buying Ryanair’s 30% stake in Aer Lingus, reports coming from Abu Dhabi said on Thursday.
The airline’s CEO James Hogan told Bloomberg he would be “very happy to have that discussion” while adding that Dublin has been a strong and profitable route for the Abu Dhabi-based airline.
Etihad already owns 3% of the Irish flag carrier, and says it has already had talks about buying the Irish Government’s 25% stake in it. The UAE’s national flag carrier has made investments in several other airlines, including Air Berlin, Air Seychelles and Virgin Australia Holdings.
Ryanair has been vying to take control of Aer Lingus since the end of 2006, when it first bought shares in it. The low cost carrier, which owns 29.82% of the airline, has already offered to buy out other Aer Lingus shareholders in a deal that values it at $851.85.
Aer Lingus is opposing the deal. The Irish carrier insists that the EU is likely to veto it on competition grounds.
A leading UAE newspaper reported in March a compromise deal between Dublin and Aer Lingus over pensions is almost complete, paving the way for a possible takeover of the Irish flag carrier by Etihad. “All I’ve said is that if they were to open their books then we’d have a look at it,” Etihad CEO James Hogan said while adding that his airline is still interested in purchasing Dublin’s stake, currently worth approximately €130 million ($170.6m).