Business Irish

Saturday 24 February 2018

Aer Lingus sale: EasyJet boss calls for €1.4bn deal with IAG

EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall
EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The chief executive of EasyJet has backed IAG's €1.4bn takeover attempt of Aer Lingus.

Carolyn McCall said that the deal would be "good for Ireland".

Her endorsement of the attempted buyout comes less than a week after Virgin Atlantic told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that it was concerned about the intended acquisition.

Ms McCall is not alone in publicly calling for the plan to go through. The Dublin-born chief executive of Australian airline Qantas, Alan Joyce, recently voiced his support for consolidation in the airline industry.

"I would say personally that I think it should go through," said Ms McCall of IAG's efforts to acquire Aer Lingus.

"It's rational consolidation. It's going to be good for Ireland, it's going to be good for IAG and it'll be good for Aer Lingus," she insisted in an interview with the 'Daily Telegraph'.

EasyJet is Ryanair's biggest rival.

The Government is expected to make a decision shortly about whether to sell its 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus to IAG.

IAG representatives have held a number of meetings with officials of a Government-appointed review group over the past few months.

The Government has sought a number of specific guarantees in relation to jobs, connectivity and future Aer Lingus growth if IAG is to buy the Irish airline.


A key issue has centred on the future use of take-off and landing slots controlled by Aer Lingus at Heathrow Airport.

The first Cabinet meeting after the Easter break will be held on Wednesday next week, when there's speculation the review group's report will be presented for consideration.

If the Government approves the sale of its stake, the matter will then have to go to a Dáil vote.

Ms McCall is the latest international business figure to speak about the Aer Lingus sale debate. It emerged two weeks ago that US billionaire Donald Trump wrote to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minster Paschal Donohoe in February and urged that Aer Lingus should not be "given away to the highest bidder".

IAG boss Willie Walsh said that it would be better to hear from people "who understand the issue".

Since taking over as chief executive of EasyJet in 2010, Ms McCall has transformed the airline.

She focused on targeting business travellers and families, introducing allocated seating, and the results saw a significant boost for the airline's profits.

Ryanair used the transformation as a model for its own reinvention, which began in earnest last year.

EasyJet is Europe's second-biggest low-cost carrier after Ryanair, which owns just under 30pc of Aer Lingus.

Irish Independent

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