Aer Lingus deal still a flyer as it records €48m first-quarter loss
A Government decision on the future of Aer Lingus could still be weeks away, according to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, as the airline reported a loss of €48.4m during the first three months of 2015.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Donohoe said that engagement between IAG and a steering group established to advise the Government on a possible sale of the State's 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus, is continuing.
But the minister indicated that a report being prepared by the inter-departmental steering group to advise the Government on whether or not it should sell the stake to IAG has still not been finalised.
"However, I do expect that the Government will be in a position to make a decision on the matter in the coming weeks," he said. "The Government interdepartmental steering group and its advisors have continued direct engagement with IAG."
He added: "I expect that the steering group will report back to me shortly. I don't want this process to be drawn out unnecessarily," he said.
Both IAG and Aer Lingus had most likely expected to be in a position to update their respective shareholders this week.
Aer Lingus reported its first-quarter results yesterday and holds its annual general meeting tomorrow, while IAG, headed by Willie Walsh, releases its first-quarter results this morning.
Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh reiterated the airline's support for an IAG takeover yesterday, saying that it would deliver "significant benefits for all Aer Lingus stakeholders".
The airline said that its revenue rose 7.9pc to €280m in the first three months of 2015, spurred by a strong performance on its long-haul business. Long-haul fare revenue rose 39.6pc to €82.5m in the first quarter.
Its short-haul business remains challenging, but Aer Lingus - as with many other airlines - typically makes a loss in the seasonally quiet first quarter of the year. Financial analysts expect it to make a profit of between €90m and €95m this year.
Mr Kavanagh also revealed yesterday that he'll unveil new cost-cutting measures in the middle of this year.
Aer Lingus is also expected to be unveiled today as the official airline sponsor of the Irish rugby team.
The multi-year agreement will also see Aer Lingus flying the team during the Rugby World Cup, which takes place in England later this year.