Aer Lingus sale to IAG could be ‘hugely positive’, says Barrington

Airline’s chairman and chief executive designate being questioned at Oireachtas committee

File photo of Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington, who is due to appear before The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

File photo of Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington, who is due to appear before The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

The sale of Aer Lingus to International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) could be “a hugely positive” development for the airline and Ireland, Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington has said.

Speaking before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications, Mr Barrington said a combination of Aer Lingus and IAG had “a compelling strategic rationale” and could deliver “significant benefits” to the company, its staff and customers, and Ireland.

“Aer Lingus being part of IAG represents a hugely positive opportunity for Aer Lingus and for Ireland,” Mr Barrington said in his opening remarks to the committee.

“This deal is about accelerated growth. It provides real prospects for long term economic growth, for growth in global connectivity, for growth in international trade, for growth in tourism and for growth in employment.”

IAG is prepared to pay €1.36 billion for the carrier, in which the State has a 25.1 per cent stake. Aer Lingus executives have backed the sale with Mr Barrington previously saying it had a “compelling logic”.

However, the proposed offer hangs on the Government agreeing to sell its shares and on Ryanair parting with its 29.8 per cent holding.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive, spent two days in Dublin last week trying to win the support of Government officials, the Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoeand Oireachtas members for his company’s bid for Aer Lingus.

A review group working on behalf of the Government previously aired concerns about the deal with IAG and Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said any sale would require a strict set of guarantees being met by the buyer.

Committee chairman John O’Mahony TD said the aim of the hearing was to engage “with relevant interest groups” about the potential sale.

“Aer Lingus recently expressed support for the IAG bid and the committee believes it is important to hear their point of view,” he said.

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