Aer Lingus bats away Ryanair as profits rise

City A.M. Reporter
IRISH airline Aer Lingus, which is trying to resist a takeover bid by larger rival Ryanair, yesterday posted an 18 per cent boost in operating profits in the three months to June and said it would at least match last year’s profit performance.

The former Irish flag-carrier said yields per passenger were up 5.3 per cent compared to the same period last year and revenues were up seven per cent.

“If current trends continue, Aer Lingus’ operating profit, before net exceptional items, for 2012 will be at least that achieved in 2011,” chief executive Christoph Mueller said in a statement. Last year’s figure came in at €49.1m (£38.m).

Ryanair, the largest shareholder in Aer Lingus with a 30 per cent holding, is in talks with the European Commission to clear a €694m takeover bid announced last month.

Aer Lingus, in which the Irish government holds a 25 per cent stake, reiterated its call for shareholders to reject Ryanair’s offer, which it says the Commission will likely block.

The firm told shareholders yesterday that a takeover would not make sense financially, due to the large overlap in routes with Ryanair and the €1.30 per share bid price.

Aer Lingus shares closed up 1.85 per cent at €1.10 yesterday – below Ryanair’s offer price.