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Ryanair sugars Aer Lingus bid

RYANAIR would hand over half of Aer Lingus's short-haul business to British airline Flybe as the price of EC approval for its €694m takeover of the flag-carrier.

Speaking in Rome yesterday, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said he was confident EC competition tsars will sanction the takeover.

Under Ryanair's latest offer to Brussels, it would hand over about 43 Aer Lingus routes to loss-making Flybe.

Ryanair has said it could exit all 46 Dublin routes that overlap with Aer Lingus and that several rival carriers are interested in competing at Irish airports.

IAG, which owns British Airways, in December signed a non-binding agreement to buy landing slots at Heathrow from Ryanair if it completes the planned takeover.

The EC competition directorate has previously indicated that earlier remedies proposed by Ryanair -- including a planned sale of Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow -- wouldn't be enough to secure the go-ahead for the takeover of its smaller rival.