The chief executive of Flybe has pledged to develop more flights between Ireland and the UK if the European Commission gives the go-ahead for Ryanair’s takeover of Aer Lingus.

Jim French said Flybe would like to bring more choice and flexibility to the Irish market.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the airline wanted to develop a slightly different business model and "develop frequency, particularly in some of the shorter routes into the UK".

Ryanair has to overcome a number of hurdles if it is to take over Aer Lingus.

The introduction of Flybe to the Irish flight market is one of its proposals.

Under the terms of a deal between Ryanair and Flybe, the UK airline would get 43 Aer Lingus short haul routes as well as a cash injection of €100m from Ryanair.

Last week, Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller dismissed the plan, and described Flybe as a bankrupt airline that had burned through all its equity. 

He said he was of the view that "weak" airlines should disappear.

Mr French this morning said it was "disingenuous and unfair" to say that Flybe was bankrupt.

He said when the company was floated two and a half years ago no money was taken out by the shareholders. He said that the "money was planned to be reinvested... to expand our business in Continental Europe".

He added that the company has up to 35 jets on order. "We said we’d use the money to pay down the deposit on those new jets. It’s not burning money, it’s using the money you’ve taken from the market for that reason," he said.