Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: Nathalie Thomas

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary intends to use a takeover of Aer Lingus to launch ultra low-cost flights across the Atlantic, it is understood.

Aer Lingus’s long-haul connections to New York, Boston and Chicago are believed to be one of the key attractions of the flag carrier, which Ryanair is hunting for a third time.

Ministers in Dublin will meet on Tuesday to discuss the surprise €1.30-a-share offer by Ryanair, which Aer Lingus has dismissed as too low.

Gert Zonneveld, of Panmure Gordon, said a merger with Aer Lingus would allow Mr O’Leary to “experiment” with cheap transatlantic flights.

The flamboyant aviation boss has hinted in the past he would like to spark a revolution in long-haul travel by offering seats to America for as little as €10 (£8). Aer Lingus is the third biggest holder of take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, with 23 pairs.

“Because Aer Lingus already flies to a number of destinations, Ryanair could dabble in the long-haul business. From that point of view, Aer Lingus is a very interesting proposition,” Mr Zonneveld said.

Many in the City believe Ryanair’s chances of clearing competition hurdles to buy Aer Lingus have improved.

Meanwhile, Li Ka-shing, Asia’s wealthiest man, is believed to be closing in on a stake in Manchester Airports Group.