Belfast Telegraph

Aer Lingus posts losses of £9.8m as IAG buyout nears

By John Mulgrew and PA

Aer Lingus has posted first-half year losses of €13.9million (£9.8m) amid the airline's ongoing sell-off to IAG.

The figure is an increase from losses of €9.9m (£7m) during the same period a year previously "before net exceptional items".

But the carrier turned a profit of €34.5m (£24.4m) for the second quarter of the year as the much-anticipated takeover by Willie Walsh's IAG neared.

The Dublin-based carrier revealed a drop in profits of about 11% from the same period last year as fluctuations in foreign exchange rates - mainly in the US dollar and euro - and high fuel prices hit the business.

But overall revenue at the airline grew by 7% to €468.9m for the second quarter of 2015.

The report came at the same time as claims that the company could be set to free up some of its Belfast to Gatwick slots as part of a European Commission requirement amid the IAG takeover.

There have also been concerns that Belfast's links to Heathrow could be cut as pressure mounts on BA, which is already owned by IAG, and others, to replace regional routes with more valuable international flights.

Commenting on Aer Lingus's results, chief executive Stephen Kavanagh used the release of the half-year figures to once again discuss the takeover by IAG.

"The adverse effects of unfavourable foreign exchange movements on performance, which were evident in this quarter, will moderate in the second half of the year as a result of a higher proportion of US dollar denominated revenues," he said.

"Both short and long-haul capacity are set to expand into the peak season, and we are very satisfied with forward yield and load factor profiles at this time."

"I would like to reiterate the view of the independent directors of Aer Lingus that the combination with IAG will strengthen Aer Lingus and will grow our airline and contribute to growth in the tourism sector and in the wider Irish economy."

Aer Lingus said its 2015 half-year figures showed that revenue grew by 7%, while passenger numbers and the retail and cargo businesses also increased.

The airline carried an additional 38,000 long-haul passengers during the period, up 10% on the same period last year.

Earlier this week, Ryanair revealed its profits had soared by 25%, just days after it was announced the budget airline could be set to return to Belfast.

Belfast Telegraph