IRELAND - Airline Pilots' Pensions, the pension scheme of Aer Lingus pilots, has bought a 2.12% stake in the Irish airline in an apparent effort to obstruct budget carrier Ryanair's €1.4bn hostile takeover bid.

The move was disclosed today in a submission to the stock exchange by the Irish Airline Pilots' Pensions Limited.

The entry revealed that the firm had bought nearly 10m shares at €3.04, which, added to the previously acquired shares, gives the pilots a stake of 2.12%.

Aer Lingus pilots confirmed to the Irish state broadcaster RTE that they had spent nearly €30m on buying up the shares yesterday.

The Irish government and Aer Lingus staff oppose Ryanair's takeover which was announced last week.

The pilots' pension fund stake combined with the Irish government's 28% and the 12% stake owned by the ESOT, Aer Lingus employees' shareholder group, means government and staff own 42% of Aer Lingus.

Currently Ryanair holds 19.2% but it cannot buy any more shares without raising its €2.80 per share offer - the airline however said that it will buy more shares when it can in the open market.

Experts in the industry today called Ryanair's bid a strategic disaster.