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Ryanair sees Aer Lingus as way to bmi

Source: Reuters - Mon 12th Oct 2009

Ryanair could use a potential acquisition of Aer Lingus as a vehicle to buy bmi BMID.UL from Deutsche Lufthansa, Ryanair's chief executive was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Michael O'Leary has said earlier it was highly unlikely he would make a third bid for the rival Irish airline but Ryanair remained interested should the government ask it to bail out the loss-making former Irish state carrier.

If the Irish government and the EU no longer objected to a tie-up on competition grounds, O'Leary said Ryanair could buy Aer Lingus and use it as a vehicle to buy bmi, getting its hands on its valuable landing slots at London's Heathrow airport.

"Why couldn't Aer Lingus buy bmi and expand at Heathrow?" O'Leary told the Sunday Tribune in an interview.

Aer Lingus would then continue to fly into primary airports like Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle, with Ryanair servicing "secondary" airports, the paper said.

Lufthansa has said it was considering various options, ranging from continuing BMI's operations to selling the company.

Aer Lingus this week told staff it would have to axe more than 600 jobs or face a downward spiral of selling assets that would ultimately threaten its survival as an independent airline.

It said it would base much of its future growth on expansion in the UK, including London and Belfast, while cutting costlier jobs in the Republic of Ireland.

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