Aer Lingus-IAG deal set for completion today

From humble origins to being part of a global group: a brief history

 

Shareholders in Aer Lingus have until today, August 18th, to accept an offer from British Airways owner IAG to acquire the airline. However the deadline is largely a formality, given that 62 per cent of the airline’s owners have already accepted the deal, and Ryanair, which has a 29.5 per cent stake, has also voted to accept it.

So, with the airline set to imminently shake off its Irish ownership for the first time, we take a look back at the key events which have shaped what was once the national airline, but is still seen by many, as an emblem of the country.

1936: Aer Lingus Teoranta was founded by the Irish government to provide an air route between Ireland and the UK. Its maiden flight was on May 27th 1936 when a six-seater De Havilland Dragon named ‘Iolar’ (Eagle) carried just five passengers across the Irish Sea from the Baldonnel aerodrome in west Dublin to Bristol. Flights to Bristol, Liverpool and the Isle of Man then started, but progress was hindered by the onset of WWII in 1939. Indeed it’s understood that the plane used by Aer LIngus for its maiden flight, but which was no longer in its service, was later shot down over Bristol during the war.

1937: An advertisement in The Irish Times promises passengers a flight from Dublin to London will take “2.5 hours of the most supreme travel you have ever experienced”.

1940: The Baldonnel site soon becomes too small for the expanding Aer Lingus, and so a site is developed for the new Dublin Airport in north Dublin. The airline starts servicing Manchester in an 80min flight.

1945: Aer Lingus expands its services, moving into hotels and a charter business. The airline’s iconic green and white colour is introduced, and flight attendants are hired for the first time.

1946: Paris becomes the first continental European city to be serviced by Aer Lingus.

1953: In a boom year for traffic, Aer Lingus carries more than 297,000 passengers, up by about 4,000 on 1952.

January 1956: Aer lingus advertises an 85 minute flight from Dublin to London for £12.10s (€347 in today’s money).

28 April 1958: The first transatlantic service leaves Dublin and Shannon for New York. The shamrock replaces the Irish flag on the tail of the airline’s fleet. In 1960 the airline introduces Boeing 720s on transatlantic flights.

24 March 1968: A flight en route from Cork to London crashes killing all 61 passengers and crew. The ill-fated ‘St. Phelim’ crashed into the sea off the coast of Co. Wexford.

May 2nd 1981: A flight from Dublin to London is hijacked with 113 passengers and crew on board. The hijacker is Laurence Downey - an Australian former trappist monk - who requests the pilot to fly the plane to Teheran. French security men ends the stand-off by storming the plane and overpowering Downey.

1997: Aircraft maintenance operation TEAM Aer Lingus is sold in December to Danish multinational company FLS Industries.

1998: Aer Lingus reports group turnover of £901 million (€1,144m) and operating profit of £52.4m

1993: The Cahill plan is introduced. This restructuring programme is launched to address the commercial challenges of the airline, at that time.

2001: Implementation of survival plan following 9/11. Introduction of low fares model to compete with low cost carrier

2006: Aer Lingus is part-privatised and floats on the Dublin and London stock exchanges. The government maintains a 25 per cent stake. The airline also launches a new route to Dubai. Ryanair launches its first bid for the airline in October of that year.

May 2011: Airline celebrates its 75th anniversary

December 2014: British Airways owner IAG, led by former Aer Lingus CEO Willie Walsh, launches a €1bn bid for the airline. The bid is rejected on the grounds that it “fundamentally undervalued” the airline.

May 26th 2015: The government agrees to the sale of its 25% shareholding in the airline to IAG for € 2.55 a share.

July 10th 2015: Board of Ryanair votes unanimously to accept the IAG offer for its 29.8 per cent shareholding in Aer Lingus.

August 18th, 2015: Aer Lingus shareholders vote to approve the IAG deal in the airline’s last day as a stand-alone company.

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