Last pieces appear to be falling into place for Ireland's Aer Lingus to become part of IAG, the holding company that also operates British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. Final approval could come as early as this Thursday.
One of the biggest final pieces is Ryanair's agreement to sell the 30% of Aer Lingus it bought several years ago in a failed takeover attempt of its own. Other pieces have been the Irish government's approval and agreement to sell its 25%, and approval by the Irish parliament. The remaining piece is approval by the European Union, and that is expected as early as this week. To gain that approval, IAG has had to make a number of concessions, including connection arrangements and giving up a few slots in London.
Opponents of the deal include those who feel Ireland's main airline should be in Irish hands, and others who are concerned that if Aer Lingus is not profitable under its new ownership there would be loss of services in Ireland. On the other side, IAG has promised to maintain Aer Lingus's trans-Atlantic services and to upgrade other service.
For North American travelers, the deal could be good news. Aside from maintaining Aer Lingus (generally low-price) service across the Atlantic, Aer Lingus will rejoin the OneWorld Alliance, making award seats available to American Airlines frequent fliers. Aer Lingus was a OneWorld member until 2006, but dropped out because its discount strategy made an alliance less valuable to it.