Stobart Air has appointed its group chief executive, Andrew Tinkler, as chairman of its Irish company, which operates regional services for Aer Lingus to Irish, UK and some French airports. The appointment follows the departure of Tim Jeans as chairman last week and signals an increase in boardroom tensions at the airline.
Stobart has been examining its options since late last year when Invesco, a UK investment house, signalled than it wanted to sell its 40 per cent stake.
Stobart, the quoted UK group is the biggest shareholder, owning 45 per cent of the airline. It led the group which bought the former Aer Arann out of examinership in 2010 with a €10 million investment package.
In a statement yesterday, Stobart said that Mr Tinkler, along with Jonathan Brown and Yvonne Deeney had been appointed directors to the airline’s Irish companies and that Mr Tinker has been appointed chairman. He replaces Mr Jeans, an experienced airline executive who previously worked with Ryanair and Monarch Airlines. Strong growth The company statement added: “The airline continues to enjoy strong growth and as part of our development strategy, we are exploring investment options.” The appointments will copperfasten Stobart’s control of the board as this process continues.
Industry sources believe that tensions have broken out between Mr Tinkler and Seán Brogan, Stobart’s Irish chief executive. Mr Brogan is believed to have examined a management buy-out for the airline and some sources say he has secured backing for this.
However Stobart is also believed to want to take control of the airline by buying out the other shareholders, possibly with the assistance of some outside financial backing.
Key to this will also be the attitude of Aer Lingus. Stobart runs the regional service for the airline, operating across the UK, Ireland and France. It rebranded the former Aer Arann service as Stobart. It operates under the Aer Lingus Regional brand flying a range of turboprop aircraft. Aer Lingus also owns a stake in the company that leases aircraft to Stobart. London market As well as its stake in the airline, Stobart, which is quoted on the London market, owns Southend airport and a range of other infrastructure assets. There has been speculation that Stobart wants to merge its Irish interests into a large company, also including Cityjet. However as Cityjet competes with Aer Lingus on the Dublin-London route, it is not clear what attitude Aer Lingus, or its new parent IAG, would take to this.