Business Irish

Saturday 23 February 2019

Aer Lingus sale: Willie Walsh snubs Donald Trump and Richard Branson intervention

Willie Walsh - whose appearance before the Oireachtas Committee was 'long overdue'
Willie Walsh - whose appearance before the Oireachtas Committee was 'long overdue'

Colm Kelpie

IAG has nothing to hide in its pursuit of Aer Lingus, IAG chief Willie Walsh has said.

And when asked about the intervention of billionaire Donald Trump who said the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG would damage tourism and foreign direct investment, Mr Walsh added: "I don't think their position should influence. I would be more interested by the interventions of those in Ireland who understand the issue.

"Clearly this is a very sensitive issue."

Mr Trump owns a hotel and golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

He also said he had no problem with Richard Branson-owned Virgin Atlantic, which has said that the sale would result in higher fares, also appearing before the transport committee.

And he recognised that the uncertainty around the potential sale may be distracting for Aer Lingus management.

IAG is looking to take over Aer Lingus in a €1.4bn bid for the airline.

"We've nothing to hide. We've been very clear about our interests in relation to Aer Lingus. I think our interests are very genuine and we believe that Aer Lingus will flourish as part of IAG," Mr Walsh said, on the margins of a breakfast event organised by headhunting consultants Merc Partners.

"That's what we want to do. We want to acquire Aer Lingus within IAG to grow it."

He said he was in no hurry to reach a deal, which he reiterated has the full support of the IAG board.

"This is not Willie Walsh trying to acquire Aer Lingus. This is IAG. This has the full unanimous support of the board who are very supportive in relation to this and are happy to take as much time as is necessary. We're quite prepared to spend time to get to the right decision," he said.


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