Aer Lingus sale in jeopardy as strong Irish government opposition emerges

The prospect of Aer Lingus being taken over has taken a severe nosedive with the emergence of strong opposition within the Irish government to selling off its 25% share in the airline. It now seems likely that unless the government gets categoric assurances on jobs and the lucrative Heathrow slots from the prospective new owners, it will decide to hold onto its shares.

Aer Lingus planes at Dublin Airport.

Aer Lingus planes at Dublin Airport. Image by Artur Widak/PA Wire

The expected boost to shares following the announcement that the parent ground of British Airways, IAG, wanted to take over the Irish carrier for €1.4 billion, or €2.55 per share, has failed to materialise because of both the political and commercial opposition to the plan.

The main shareholder in the company - aside from the Irish Government, with a 25.1% stake -  is competing airline, Ryanair, which owns 29.8%.

The backlash to the sale stems also from the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association – the holders of 7% of the airline’s share – who have come out and declared that a takeover would not be good for its members, the Irish Independent reports.

The BBC reports that Evan Cullen, president of the pilots' association, also felt the deal would leave Ireland’s crucial air links to the US and the UK at the mercy of a London boardroom.

Currently Aer Lingus, which employs nearly 4,000, mostly in Dublin, is the fourth-largest operator at Heathrow behind BA, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.

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