Aer Lingus is a bank manager's dream
Published 26/08/2010 | 05:00
WHO said nobody was making any money from Irish banking? Aer Lingus's extraordinary cash deposits, now amounting to €817m, are among the largest in Irish business and Christophe Mueller, the current chief executive, has finally found a way to keep them intact by cutting costs and slashing capacity.
Spread presumably among different banks (maybe even Irish ones), the deposits are kicking in about €22m a year in pure profit, with €11m accumulating in the first half alone.
While the airline's critics will continue to jibe that Aer Lingus is a deposit account with an airline attached, Mr Mueller won't care.
He knows that a strong balance sheet (and those Heathrow slots) are vital to the airline getting through the current turmoil and some day even managing to ditch Ryanair and lining up an alternative investor.
A sale to a trade buyer (Air-France KLM or, say, Lufthansa) is probably the only way now for the original investors who bought into Aer Lingus to get their money back. That may never happen, but Mr Mueller's success in preserving the cash at least makes it a possibility, however remote.