Qantas chief Joyce 'not surprised' at interest in Aer Lingus
The chief executive of Qantas, Alan Joyce, said he's not surprised that potential investors would be interested in acquiring a stake in Aer Lingus.
Mr Joyce, who has been the boss at Qantas since 2008, worked for Aer Lingus for eight years before heading to Australia in 1996. At one point during the last decade, Mr Joyce was tapped to become Aer Lingus chief executive, but he decided to remain in Australia where he was running Qantas's low-cost division JetStar.
"Having worked for Aer Lingus for eight years, I obviously have a soft spot for the airline and its history," he told the Irish Independent. "They've done a phenomenal job over the years and I'm not surprised that people want a stake in it."
Abu Dhabi-based Etihad – headed by Australian James Hogan – owns almost 3pc of Aer Lingus and has indicated that it would be interested in increasing that stake.
Last year, Mr Joyce signed a major alliance with Dubai-based Emirates in order to help turn around the Qantas long-haul business. That deal with Emirates was sealed despite earlier overtures from Etihad, which had also been interested in striking a deal with Qantas.
"Emirates will be the largest international airline in the world," said Mr Joyce. Etihad, which is expanding its international network, has 83 aircraft and will have 159 by 2020, and has a near 20pc stake in Virgin Australia, which challenges Qantas on domestic services.
Mr Joyce has been busy expanding the Qantas JetStar unit across Asia. It's now the biggest low-cost carrier in Japan, where it operates on a joint-venture basis with Japan Airlines.
"Jetstar is expanding rapidly across the region," said Mr Joyce. "Its growth profile is bigger than Ryanair's was at a similar age."