Ryanair has strongly denied making an approach for fellow budget airline Norwegian.
Reuters reports Ryanair approached Norwegian with a view to taking a 20% stake in the Oslo-based carrier, citing a source with “close knowledge of the discussion”.
Norwegian chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, confirmed there had been contact between the two airlines and that he raised it with the Norwegian board.
A spokesman for Ryanair though told Reuters: “There is no truth to these claims. We have not made an approach to Norwegian and we have no interest.”
It is the latest twist in the ongoing saga over the future of Norwegian.
Last month, British Airways owner IAG acquired a 4.61% stake in the low-cost airline.
IAG said the aim of the investment was to “establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer”.
Norwegian later said it had fielded “several inquiries” following the IAG stake, setting up a steering group and appointing a legal team to handle bids.
However, earlier this month, Norwegian confirmed its board had “unanimously rejected” two separate full takeover bids from IAG, which it said undervalued the carrier and its prospects.
Kjos though maintains Norwegian could be sold “at the right price”.
The airline’s shares soared earlier this week following reports in the Spanish press IAG was preparing a third bid, this time worth £1.52bn.
The boss of Qatar Airways, which owns a 21% stake in IAG, further fanned the flames this week, stating Norwegian’s objection to IAG could be a negotiating tactic.
Akbar al Baker said it was “only a matter of time before they [Norwegian] have no alternative but to accept a bid from somebody”.