Airline boss rules out stake in Aer Lingus
JEFF SMISEK has become the latest major airline boss to rule out any interest in acquiring the Government’s 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus
Smisek is president and chief executive of US-based airline giant United, which has a code sharing relationship with Aer Lingus.
It operates its own flights to Shannon and Dublin from its hub in Newark and from Washington DC to our capital.
However, Smisek poured cold water on the idea of taking a stake in Aer Lingus at the airline’s international media day in Chicago on Tuesday.
“I don’t believe that owning equity in an airline is necessary for a good business relationship, nor is it sufficient for a good business relationship,” he said.
“So at this point we don’t have any plans to take a stake in an airline.
“I can’t comment on what Aer Lingus’s future will be because that’s up to Aer Lingus but ... we are not believers that we should take an equity stake in a partner to develop a relationship.”
Emirates boss Tim Clark and Willie Walsh, who leads International Airlines Group, have both ruled out buying the Government’s shares in Aer Lingus.
To date, only Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, which purchased just under 3 per cent of Aer Lingus earlier this year, and Ryanair, which has tabled a fresh bid for its Irish rival, have expressed an interest in the Government’s holding.
Smisek told the assembled media that its focus is on completing the integration of United and its US rival Continental. The pair merged two years ago and carry about 150 million passengers a year.
Smisek said the merger was a “time-consuming and complex process” that had yet to be fully bedded down.
United has a fleet of 600 aircraft and serves about 60 countries directly. Its fuel bill this year will be an eye-watering $13 billion.