Dublin could be European transatlantic hub if IAG buys Aer Lingus
Irish carrier Aer Lingus will benefit from the financial muscle of International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) to grow both its fleet and its transatlantic business, IAG’s chief executive, Willie Walsh has claimed.
His group is seeking to take over the Irish airline by offering €2.55 a share for a total of €1.36 billion. He was in Ireland as he sought to assure politicians, the government – which has a 25.1% share in Aer Lingus – and other interested stakeholders that such a takeover would not lead to job cuts and downgrading. Speaking on RTE Radio, Mr Walsh said that he envisaged Aer Lingus in Dublin under his group becoming a European hub for transatlantic travel.
Last year over two million passengers flew between Dublin and North America, with a third connecting from airports elsewhere in Europe and especially Britain. “We identify strong brands such as Aer Lingus and enable them to operate independently but support the company when it is needed. British Airways and US partner, American Airlines, would help Aer Lingus to expand. It is important to remember that IAG is a group of airlines owned by IAG that does its best for all airlines. We give each airline good independence,” he pointed out. He added: “I am saying Aer Lingus would remain independent within the group.”
Mr Walsh said there would be some job losses in administration and at Head Office as it made sense to do this. But he stressed that they would grow the airline and there would be more jobs coming on line. They would come about from expanding the long-haul areas. Each long-haul plane would add directly 100 jobs - mechanics, engineers and pilots etc – in Dublin, he explained.
He also emphasised that Aer Lingus as a stand-alone operator would find it increasingly difficult to compete whereas being part of his group would give it a much better chance to expand. On the question of the lucrative Heathrow Airport slots, he said that AIG would give cast iron guarantees blocking their selling off. He said his takeover bid would guarantee that the slots would be used to serve Ireland for the next five years.