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Aer Lingus/British Air tie moves closer

The bride and the groom have agreed...but a number of members of the wedding party still need to be satisfied. That's the story as Aer Lingus and IAG, parent of British Air, Iberia and Vueling, move closer to merger.


A big hurdle was cleared this week when the Irish government, which owns 25% of the slightly-profitable but often struggling carrier, agreed to the deal and to sell its shares. The Irish parliament must also approve, but with government support, that's likely. The two remaining issues are approval by EU authorities and working out a deal with Ryanair, which owns almost 30%. 


To get the deal done, IAG promised that Aer Lingus would remain a separate brand and expand its U.S. servoce to four more cities, that Aer Lingus service to Heathrow would continue for at least seven years, and that existing union contracts would be honored. More jobs at Aer Lingus are also in the deal.


Ryanair's involvement stems from three attempts to take over the airline itself; all failed because Ireland ruled that having only one Irish airline would be a competitive disadvantage for the country. Having Aer Lingus continue as part of a stronger company, and with Oneworld membership, the potential for maintaining competition is strong.


Photo: Aer Lingus A321 (Wikimedia / Arpingstone)


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