Wednesday 22 November 2017

Aer Lingus still in talks about merger, says Mueller

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Aer Lingus remains in on-going merger talks with another airline, its chief executive, Christoph Mueller has confirmed.

The Irish Independent reported last month that the former state-owned carrier was in continuing tentative merger talks with an unidentified suitor.

Aer Lingus has already identified cost savings of between €35m and €50m that could be achieved across a number of operational activities as a result of the merger. Fleet and maintenance synergies have also been identified.

Mr Mueller told an Austrian aviation journal this week that the talks remain ongoing. He refused to be drawn on the negotiations but said a potential partner would have to carefully consider their involvement with Aer Lingus when Ryanair retains a near 30pc stake in its smaller rival.

The UK Competition Commission has ordered Ryanair to reduce its stake in Aer Lingus to 5pc. However, Ryanair will appeal that decision, probably dragging out the process for up to a year.

Mr Mueller said that a merger with another airline would be driven by complementary markets and that its slots could also be a catalyst. Aer Lingus controls valuable takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow.

The UK's Competition Commission also revealed last month that Aer Lingus entered discussions early in 2012 with an unnamed airline about a "possible combination".

Irish Independent

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