IAG issues safeguards to Dublin over Aer Lingus bid
24 / 02 / 2015
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) has issued legally binding commitments to safeguard Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow as the British Airways and Iberia parent prepares to launch a €1.4bn bid for the Irish flag carrier.
IAG, itself the target of a 9.99 per cent share swoop last week by Qatar Airways, says that the safeguards – to secure the support of the Irish government – “go well beyond the protections currently available to the government and would give it an important role in securing the future of Aer Lingus”.
The proposed commitments would ensure, unless there is explicit Irish government agreement, that Aer Lingus’ 23 slot pairs at London Heathrow, cannot be sold, including to other IAG airlines.
Aer Lingus’ name, head office location or place of incorporation in the Republic of Ireland, cannot be changed.
IAG is also prepared to offer a further commitment to operate the slots on Irish routes for five years, adding: “This is protection that the government does not have today.”
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: "We are committed to maintaining and strengthening Aer Lingus. We want to develop air services that ensure Ireland’s connectivity is enhanced.
“In seeking the support of the Irish Government, we propose to offer it legally binding commitments that go well beyond the protections currently available to it.
Walsh added: “These commitments would give the Irish government an important role that they do not have today in securing the future of Aer Lingus."
The commitments and giving greater powers to the Irish government will be subject to Irish Takeover Rules and European Union competition review, following consultation with IAG.