Aer Lingus: IAG offer a 'compelling and significantly positive opportunity'
A €1.36b takeover of Aer Lingus by the International Airlines Group (IAG) would deliver significant benefits for the airline, its employees, customers and Ireland, the carrier's top brass have said.
Describing the offer as a "compelling and significantly positive opportunity", the carrier claimed a successful deal would enhance the Republic as a natural hub for European air services on the North Atlantic.
The airline said if the proposal is accepted by the Government it would accelerate growth of transatlantic, long-haul services, boost employment, enhance short haul business and strengthen Ireland's connectivity.
In its clearest statement to date to promote the bid, Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington said a takeover would drive its business.
"The strong view of the board of Aer Lingus is that the prospect of Aer Lingus being part of the IAG Group has a compelling commercial logic for Aer Lingus, has significantly positive benefits for Ireland and is strongly supportive of the Irish Government's two airline policy," he said.
"Following a combination with IAG, Aer Lingus will have a markedly greater number of more attractive growth options that will significantly benefit the company, its employees, its customers, the tourism sector, Irish business and industry and the airports at which Aer Lingus operates and Ireland."
On January 27 the Aer Lingus board said it would be willing to recommend the IAG deal and in its latest statement it reiterated that the takeover is in the best interests of shareholders.
The move follows a two-day charm offensive by IAG chief executive Willie Walsh in Dublin which included a three hour Q&A with politicians concerned at the prospect of a takeover.
Aer Lingus set out how it sees the airline growing during talks yesterday with Ireland's Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.
On the potential for Dublin to be developed as an international transit hub for airlines, the airline said Ireland is a natural gateway to connect Europe and North America.
It said new US destinations would be added to its network if the takeover succeeds.
Aer Lingus said the deal would see significant numbers of jobs created, including highly skilled positions within Aer Lingus and more in related industries and services and tourism.
It said flights on th e Dublin, Cork and Shannon to London Heathrow routes will benefit from sales and marketing by British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and oneworld partners linked to the group.
Aer Lingus also repeated commitments it said it has received, and already publicised by Mr Walsh, that Aer Lingus would be preserved as a separate business under the IAG umbrella with its own brand, management, head office and operations.
Mr Barrington said: "Over recent weeks the board of Aer Lingus has listened carefully to the public debate which has taken place regarding IAG's proposal.
"We have had further detailed discussions with IAG and the Board has a greater understanding of IAG's intentions for the future of Aer Lingus and the proposed commitments that IAG is prepared to make in relation to Aer Lingus.
"These discussions have further confirmed that it is clearly in IAG's interests to continue to grow Aer Lingus within the IAG Group. The board's view is therefore that a combination of Aer Lingus with IAG has a compelling strategic rationale and will deliver significant benefits for Aer Lingus, its employees, its customers and for Ireland."
No deadline has been set for the offer to be accepted.
Yesterday Mr Walsh dismissed trade union claims of 1,200 job losses at Aer Lingus if the IAG offer is accepted by the Government, a 25.1% shareholder in the airline.
He said about 500 jobs could be created including new pilots, cabin crew, engineers and mechanics but would not be drawn on a figure for potential redundancies in back office, admin and procurement sections.
IAG offered €2.55 a share for Aer Lingus.