herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Willie Walsh offers concessions to bolster Aer Lingus bid

Willie Walsh
Willie Walsh
The Aer Lingus board said it was prepared to accept a sweetened offer worth 2.55 euro a share

IAG boss Willie Walsh will offer specific concessions to Cork and Shannon airports in an effort to seal the planned €1.4bn takeover of Aer Lingus.

In a 24-hour charm blitz, the aviation chief insisted that there was nothing to fear from an IAG takeover of Aer Lingus.

For over two hours yesterday afternoon he answered questions from TDs and Senators

at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport about his plans.

Asked by the Herald if he felt he’d been successful in persuading opponents to a deal that it would be in the best interest of Aer Lingus, Mr Walsh said: “We’ll see.”

“I enjoyed it,” he said. “I got an opportunity to address most, if not all of their concerns, and it was great to have that opportunity.

“I think they’ve heard a lot more than they have heard previously and that can only

go to making this a little bit easier.

“It was a very positive engagement. I thought it was a very good, proactive discussion today.”

But he conceded that some jobs, in areas such as procurement, would be lost in the short-term at Aer Lingus if it’s bought, but that would be offset by IAG’s plan to grow the Irish airline.

Mr Walsh stressed that an Aer Lingus takeover would be good for the airline and confirmed that fresh concessions are

on the cards for Cork and Shannon.

“That is something that I would be prepared to do,” he said.

“To be honest, I see no reason why we wouldn’t operate

services from Shannon and from Cork to Heathrow,” said Mr Walsh.

IAG confirmed in a statement, following Mr Walsh’s appearance, that extra concessions are being planned for the two airports following the airline chief’s meeting with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.

IAG said the commitment would be for five years and will mean ensuring services from Cork and Shannon to Heathrow are maintained during that period.

“They are sustainable routes,” he insisted.

On the jobs front, Mr Walsh couldn’t give specific assurances.

However, he pointed out that each additional large long-haul aircraft it would add to the Aer Lingus fleet would result in about 100 new jobs.

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