herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Shareholders set for Aer Lingus payouts

Aer Lingus is being bought as it experiences a surge in transatlantic traffic
Aer Lingus is being bought as it experiences a surge in transatlantic traffic

Thousands of Aer Lingus shareholders are to receive a summer windfall as the airline's €1.36bn takeover by IAG looks set to be cemented today.

Shareholders have until 1pm this afternoon to accept IAG's takeover offer, with the Government, Etihad and Ryanair all having agreed to sell their stakes in Aer Lingus.

IAG, which is headed by Willie Walsh, will have 14 days to pay shareholders who accept the deal. Once that is done, Aer Lingus will be formally part of IAG. It will subsequently be delisted and any outstanding shares hoovered up by IAG.

IAG issues half-year results tomorrow, and Mr Walsh will be hoping to be in a position to declare his seven-month pursuit of Aer Lingus complete.

Aer Lingus is being bought as it experiences a surge in transatlantic traffic. Mr Walsh wants to buy it to capitalise on the potential for using Dublin as a transatlantic hub, continuing the Aer Lingus strategy of funnelling passengers from the UK and mainland Europe to North America through the capital.

Releasing first-half results yesterday - its last set of results as a public company - Aer Lingus said its total passenger revenue rose 7.3pc to €700.8m in the period, while it posted a €13.9m pre-exceptional operating loss, 40pc worse than it did a year earlier.

Its second-quarter pre- exceptional operating profit fell 10.9pc to €34.5m, with the airline having taken an adverse €21m foreign-exchange hit due to a much stronger US dollar and sterling.

That unfavourable foreign exchange trend will moderate, according to chief financial officer Bernard Bot.

The airline's fare revenue from transatlantic services rose 24.4pc in the second quarter to €172.5m as Aer Lingus lifted capacity on those routes by 9.7pc compared with the second quarter in 2014.

Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh said the airline is planning a number of new customer initiatives, and is eyeing additional services to Orlando and possibly Miami.

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