O'Leary's 'Sadness' as His Bid for Aer Lingus Fails; 1.michael O'Leary: 'Strange and Sad' 2.dermot Mannion: Aer Lingus Chief

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Byline: Aiden Corkery

RYANAIR last night abandoned its attempts to take over Aer Lingus after the Government rejected its E750million bid for the former flag carrier.

The budget airline said it was disappointed by the Government's decision as its offer 'far exceeded' the value of Aer Lingus and would have created badly needed jobs during a recession.

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary said: 'It is strange, when the Irish Government is looking for E2billion in cost savings, that it would reject an offer of E188million for its 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.

'It is also sad, when thousands of jobs are being lost in Ireland, that Ryanair's offer to create 1,000 new Irish jobs in Aer Lingus over the next five years has been rejected.' He predicted Aer Lingus would now be destined to become a 'small peripheral, loss-making airline' that was doomed to making partnerships with other loss-making airlines, such as the alliance with United Airlines announced yesterday by Aer Lingus boss Dermot Mannion.

However, Mr O'Leary thanked the Government for taking the time to consider its E1.40 per share offer, and said that Ryanair would now concentrate on expanding its core business.

Mr O'Leary said: 'Ryanair will now focus all of our energies on continuing to successfully grow and develop Ireland's biggest airline, and we will ensure that Ireland will still be home to one of Europe's big four airline groups.' Yesterday Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said the Government had rejected the Ryanair offer because it 'greatly undervalued' Aer Lingus.

The Government also had serious fears that a Ryanair takeover could seriously undermine competition in the Irish airline sector, he added.

'Because we live on an island, Irish consumers depend very heavily on air transport. …