THE OWNER of British Airways appears to be on the brink of a major breakthrough in its £1 billion pursuit of Dublin-based carrier Aer Lingus.
A third and improved proposal from International Airlines Group (IAG) has reportedly won the backing of the Irish carrier’s board.
IAG still requires the support of the Irish government, which holds a 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus and will want reassurances from the BA and Iberia owner over its plans for the key Dublin to Heathrow route.
Low-cost airline Ryanair, which owns just under 30 per cent of Aer Lingus following a series of failed takeover attempts, may be tempted to sell at the new offer price of €2.50 euros a share, equivalent to €1.33bn (£994 million). The Aer Lingus board rejected previous bids from IAG worth €2.30 and €2.40 euros a share.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE SCOTSMAN’S BUSINESS BRIEFING
Aer Lingus is well known to IAG boss Willie Walsh, as he ran the airline between 2001 and 2005 before taking the helm at BA.
IAG’s interest in the carrier stems from its desire for additional Heathrow runway slots as well as the opportunity to deliver more industry cost efficiencies. But Ireland’s deputy prime minister has warned that protecting the country’s air links with Europe and the US is of vital importance if the deal is to go through.
Joan Burton said retaining valuable slots in Heathrow is critically important for the Irish government and for the country in terms of inward investment, exports and tourism.
“What we will want to do as a government, and what’s absolutely important, is to protect these slots and the connections of direct flights in and out of Ireland,” she told RTE Radio. It is understood that Irish cabinet ministers will discuss the future of Aer Lingus during its weekly meeting tomorrow.