The Irish government has turned down a bid from the International Airlines Group (IAG) for Aer Lingus, saying it was not willing to sell its stake in the airline without further assurances.
The government wants commitments on growth prospects and the safeguarding of jobs, before it considers selling its 25 per cent stake.
Willie Welsh, the Irish chief executive of IAG, was hoping to buy back the airline he once managed, and was hopeful of success. The bid had received support from the Aer Lingus board, as well as some lobby groups and politicians.
The Irish transport minister Paschal Donohoe, said:
The information and commitments that have been provided to date do not at present provide a basis on which the government could give an irrevocable commitment to accept an offer to dispose of its shares, should one be made by IAG.
There were other aspects on which the government sought clarification, including how trans-Atlantic routes would be expanded. IAG chief Walsh has that his company’s approach for Aer Lingus was also contingent on acceptance from Ryanair, which owns 30 per cent of AER Lingus.