Sunday 15 December 2019

Man Utd exit hits Aer Lingus

Nick Webb

AER Lingus has been hit by a weakness in demand for Champions League football match travel in recent months.

Although Roman Abramovich's Chelsea will play in the final in Munich later this month, other English premiership teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City exited the competition at an early stage.

Speaking to investors last week, Stephen Kavanagh, the airline's chief commercial officer, said that there had been "a lot of softness" around sporting events such as the Champions League.

"In previous years we would have seen strong demand for such events," he said. "We haven't seen that in this up to the same extent."

Aer Lingus lost €36.1m in the first quarter of the year, a 38 per cent improvement on the same period last year.

Last Friday, Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington told shareholders that Gulf airline Etihad had "no interest" in raising its stake in the former State-owned carrier. He added that the new shareholder was not seeking to break up the airline or to sell off its valuable Heathrow slots.

Barrington added that potential buyers for Aer Lingus were not "beating down the door". Aer Lingus told shareholders last week that it was to pay a three cent per share dividend. Ryanair scoffed at the size of the payout, describing it as "paltry".

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