IAG targets tourist bodies to keep Aer Lingus bid alive
IAG executives haven't given up on their bid to takeover Aer Lingus and are now preparing to meet opposition parties and tourism bodies.
Despite both Government parties expressing serious reservations about the sale of the national carrier, IAG are determined to keep the channels of dialogue open.
They are expected to meet Government advisers in the middle of next week in the hope of advancing its planned €1.4bn acquisition.
It is understood that the company is also preparing to meet key trade and tourism interests over the next few weeks to convince them that it intends to grow Aer Lingus under a takeover plan.
IAG, which owns British Airways and Iberia, is also considering meeting opposition parties to persuade them of the merits of a takeover.
Members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport are opposed to the Aer Lingus takeover.
They've heard submissions from groups such as trade unions, tourism bodies, the IDA and Enterprise Ireland over the past two weeks.
IAG intends to detail exactly how Dublin can be developed as a transatlantic hub and how IAG's relationship with American Airlines can be used to amplify the Aer Lingus brand across the United States.
American Airlines has relationships with a large number of the biggest corporations in the US.
IAG will explain how that relationship could be used to benefit future foreign direct investment in Ireland.
Expanding cargo services is also on the agenda. It's thought IAG is keen to explain how it will develop air freight to the particular benefit of industries such as IT and pharmaceuticals.
It also wants to reassure regional interests about how they can benefit from a takeover of Aer Lingus and subsequent expansion of the airline, it's understood.
IAG officials met members of the Government's review group earlier this week, in what was their first formal engagement.
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said on Thursday that he remains to be convinced about the merits of an Aer Lingus takeover.
"IAG have laid out the circumstances in which they would be prepared to make a formal bid," he said.
"However, we as a shareholder remain to be convinced regarding the merits of what they're putting forward.
"As I have said all along, we will be evaluating far more than a share price, in relation to any decision that we make."
IAG has already offered legally-binding guarantees that it wouldn't ever sell Aer Lingus take-off and landing slots at London's Heathrow Airport without Government approval. It has also pledged to use the Heathrow slots to service only Irish routes for at least the first five years after a takeover.