Aer Lingus owner IAG to sell Norwegian Air shares

Airline group confirms it does not plan to bid for the troubled rival

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh: he  said the company would not enter a bidding war for Norwegian. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh: he said the company would not enter a bidding war for Norwegian. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Aer Lingus owner International Consolidated Airlines’ Group (IAG) plans to offload its 4 per cent stake in troubled carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle.

IAG owns 3.93 per cent of the Scandinavian group, which is seeking savings of €200 million this year as it struggles with rising costs and tough competition.

IAG confirmed on Thursday that it does not intend to bid for Norwegian, and that “in due course” it would sell its shares.

Shares in the Oslo-listed carrier fell as much as 23 per cent to a 52 week low after the announcement.

The statement comes just days after Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, told an audience in Dublin that his group “would not enter a bidding war for Norwegian”.

The group bought the shares last year, and Mr Walsh said it would have been willing to take over its rival but only at the right price.

Along with Aer Lingus, IAG owns British Airways and Spanish carriers Iberia and Vueling.

Norwegian last week told staff of plans to cut or shrink bases, including Dublin airport, where an estimated 150 jobs could go. It is also seeking pay cuts across the group, 7 per cent from pilots and 4 per cent from cabin crew.

Pilot and crew unions have written to management demanding that the company focus first on savings that do not affect jobs. The Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, which has members employed by Norwegian, backs this stance.

The Scandinavian group has an Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International, which is licensed in the Republic.