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Plane sailing at Aer Lingus AGM - but IAG bid is waiting in the wings


Colm Barrington

Colm Barrington

Colm Barrington

There was speculation that the Aer Lingus annual general meeting in the Radisson Hotel at Dublin Airport yesterday afternoon might run into a spot of turbulence, but in the end it was plane sailing for the airline's board.

A group of about 70 protesters from the Deferred Pensions Group were lined up peacefully outside the hotel with neatly printed placards with a variety of slogans, including some referring to the recently departed airline CEP Christoph Mueller who was paid €1.23m in 2014.

Vincent Lynch, chairman of the pensioners' group, said he and his colleagues had recently met with Social Protection Minister Joan Burton. "We didn't come out of the meeting with a warm, fuzzy feeling," he said.

There was a degree of disgruntlement inside too, with several contributions from shareholders on issues such as pension-cuts, the proposed takeover of the airline by IAG and Mr Mueller's pay.

One chap was exercised over the takeover bid by IAG, owners of British Airways. "Why are the Brits allowed dictate to an Irish company what we can or cannot do?" he asked, pointing out that Ryanair had offered more per share in their bid.

Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington explained that Ryanair had been denied their takeover bid on grounds of competition law.

"We compete with IAG's airlines on very few routes, but we compete with Ryanair on over 80pc of routes," he said.

There were several speeches from retired staff. "How do you sleep at night?" asked deferred pensioner Yvonne Kilkenny.

"Because I find it difficult to sleep worrying about my future," she added.

The question didn't fly with Colm Barrington.

"I'm not going to comment on personal issues like how people sleep at night."

Although he may be counting sheep himself, given the Government's decision on the IAG bid is scheduled to touch down any day now.

Irish Independent