Saturday 20 January 2018

Significant week ahead in battle for Aer Lingus

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

It's going to be a pivotal week in the battle for Aer Lingus, as IAG executives meet Government advisers again to provide more detail about the airline group's €1.4bn plan to take over the Irish carrier.

They two sides had their first meeting last week, but it's understood that IAG is now preparing to delve into much more detail about how it will leverage its relationship with American Airlines to benefit Ireland's tourism and foreign direct investment prospects, and raise the Aer Lingus profile across the United States.

Aer Lingus releases its full-year financial results in just over two weeks, and a good performance will put IAG under further pressure to say why its existing proposed offer makes sense.

IAG is also planning to detail how it will grow cargo services and grow Dublin as a transatlantic hub, potentially launching even more point-to-point routes between the capital and the US. It also wants to allay fears in the Cork and Shannon regions.

IAG is also getting ready to broaden its charm offensive to tourism and trade bodies.

There's been intense political opposition to any sale of the Government's 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus, despite assurances that IAG has already given on how it will use the carrier's take-off and landing slots at Heathrow Airport. IAG has also promised to give the Government a veto over any potential sale of those slots in the future.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said last week that he remains to be convinced about the merits of an Aer Lingus takeover.

A plan for Aer Lingus has to focus on "connectivity, jobs and the future," Taoiseach Enda Kenny has previously insisted.

"I need to see a cast-iron, permanent guarantee in respect of connectivity for Cork, Shannon, Dublin and Knock," he said. He added that if he can see flesh on that, then the Government will look at "all the options".

Irish Independent

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