Barrington appointed Aer Lingus chairman


AER LINGUS has appointed experienced Irish aviation executive Colm Barrington as its new chairman, ending weeks of speculation as to who would take on the €175,000-a-year role.

Mr Barrington, who is chief executive of Dublin-based listed aircraft leasing company Babcock Brown Air Ltd, will take up the role next month, succeeding Englishman John Sharman who has been chairman of Aer Lingus since 2004.

Mr Barrington will now step down from the board of the Dublin Airport Authority, where he has served since 2004.

It is understood that Mr Barrington was approached about the role last week after financier Dermot Desmond had earlier turned down an offer to become Aer Lingus's next chairman. Mr Barrington was informed of his selection yesterday.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Barrington said Aer Lingus was in "very good shape" to tackle the challenges ahead. "They have a very strong balance sheet because of the IPO and they have done a superb job in restructuring the company," he said. "But the markets are difficult at present; the price of fuel is rising so there are a lot of challenges out there."

In relation to his current role with Babcock Brown Air, Mr Barrington said any potential conflict of interest would be carefully managed. "In the future, Babcock Brown might want to lease an aircraft from Aer Lingus or Aer Lingus might want to lease an aircraft from Babcock Brown, in which case I will step aside and not discuss the transaction."

A number of high-profile executives were linked with the Aer Lingus chairmanship recently, including former Greencore boss David Dilger and economist Colin Hunt, a current member of the Aer Lingus board.

Mr Barrington began his aviation career with Aer Lingus, joining the airline from university. He was initially involved in financial analysis and route planning before spending six years in the United States running its former hotel division.

Mr Barrington also previously worked at Irish aircraft leasing company GPA with Ryanair founder Tony Ryan. He held a number of senior executive positions at GPA between 1979 and 1993 and was appointed president of GE Capital Aviation Services Ltd after it bought the Shannon-based company. He was managing director of Babcock and Brown in Dublin from 1994 until last year, when he assumed his current role.

Mr Barrington is also a non-executive director of financial services group IFG. He represented Ireland in yacht racing for many years and is chairman of the Irish Sailing Association's Olympic steering committee.

DAA chairman Gary McGann thanked Mr Barrington for his contribution as a board member. "Colm has been a tremendous asset to the board of the DAA and it has been a pleasure to work with him."