Ryanair to bid for IAG slots at London's Gatwick

By Julia Fioretti
A Ryanair aircraft lands at Manchester Airport in Manchester, north-west England, Britain, May 26, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Yates

By Julia Fioretti

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Ryanair will bid for the slots IAG has agreed to release at London's Gatwick airport as a condition of its takeover of Aer Lingus , Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said on Wednesday.

IAG, which owns British Airways, gained EU approval for its 1.3-billion-euro (916 million pounds) bid for Ireland's Aer Lingus on Tuesday after agreeing to improve concessions to ease competition concerns, including giving up five slots at the London airport.

"We welcome the proposals by IAG that they would surrender some slots in Gatwick. We will certainly be bidding for the slots and we would certainly want to expand services we offer at Gatwick," O'Leary told a news conference in Brussels.

Irish budget airline Ryanair said it would accept IAG's offer for its 30 percent stake in Aer Lingus last week. The takeover had been conditional on the backing of Ryanair and the Irish government, which agreed to sell its 25 percent stake in May.

O'Leary said Ryanair did not expect to receive the 400 million euros of proceeds for its stake until September, and he said the board would then consider how to spend it.

"Speaking personally I'll be advocating that we use the proceeds to help us pay down aircraft, but there's clearly some interest among our shareholders that they will get some of the proceeds as well," O'Leary said.

"The board I'm sure will be generous and do whatever is in the best interest of Ryanair's shareholders."

Ryanair last year placed an order for up to 200 new Boeing planes and is targeting 50 percent growth in passenger numbers by 2019.

(Writing by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Louise Heavens and Pravin Char)