Aer Arann on course despite plans to sell on its aircraft leasing unit
AER Arann, which emerged from examinership in 2010, insists it's on course to carry 1.1 million passengers this year, despite one of its subsidiary firms having been struck off and another threatened with removal from the company register.
It's emerged that the firm has also been trying to sell its Arann Aircraft Leasing subsidiary.
New accounts filed for a unit called Arann Aircraft Leasing 3, which relates to two of the carrier's 12 aircraft, note that it leases those two aircraft to another related firm, Comhfhorbairt (Gaillimh).
The accounts, which were finalised just last week, state; "Notwithstanding the completion of the examinership process, Comhfhorbairt's trading and liquidity difficulties have persisted and . . . Aer Arann Group is currently attempting to raise sufficient funding to enable Comhfhorbairt to continue as a going concern."
It adds; "They (Aer Arann Group) have also indicated . . . that it is their intention to dispose of Arann Aircraft Leasing . . . as a going concern to a third party to raise such funds, and that this process, whilst not completed, is at a very advanced stage. A corporate shareholder of Everdeal, the company's ultimate parent undertaking, has agreed to provide bridging finance to Comhfhorbairt until such a time as the disposal of the company is complete."
That bridging finance is thought to have originated from UK transport and logistics group Stobart. It owns 5pc of Aer Arann, having pledged €2.5m in marketing support to the carrier in order to enable it to emerge from examinership.
The head of Stobart's Irish operation, Sean Brogan, was recently appointed interim chief executive of Aer Arann after the airline's chief executive, Paul Schutz, resigned.
Aer Arann is still majority owned by Padraig O Ceidigh, who has a nearly 67pc stake. UK-based businessman Tim Kilroe owns just over 28pc. Stobart has an option to boost its holding to 37pc.
It's believed that while the sales process for Arann Aircraft Leasing -- which is also listed to be struck off but will escape the move -- is still under way a final deal isn't imminent.
Aer Arann now flies all its aircraft under Aer Lingus Regional livery, having signed a deal with Aer Lingus allowing it to use the brand under a licensing arrangement.
The dissolution of Arann Aircraft Leasing 3 also caused a credit event with the firm's lenders, AIB and Luxembourg-based PK Airfinance, which is part of GE Capital. However, it's thought that no notice of default was served on Arann Aircraft Leasing 3.
A spokesperson for Aer Arann said that the reinstatement of Arann Aircraft Leasing 3 to full company status is "imminent" and that all outstanding returns have now been filed.
"The company's passenger numbers last year were over one million for the first time since 2007 and are expected to grow by a further 10pc this year," she said. "We are opening new routes and are advancing plans to renew the company's fleet."