When IAG first announced their interest in buying Aer Lingus we said this was a marriage made in heaven.
Aer Lingus had done well to put itself on a sounder base and was able to ride through the Irish economic troubles relatively unscathed. However, going forward, the airline was just too small to survive on its own. Furthermore, there were not many possible saviours around.
For IAG, Aer Lingus was attractive because of its base in Dublin and established routes to the US which will allow it to funnel traffic from Europe through Dublin, as well as take Irish passengers overseas via Madrid and Heathrow.
The Irish government could rid itself of a potential liability – and get some cash as well. And the staff of the airline would have a much more secure future in an airline group that is growing.
As we said at the time, it was just too good to happen. Something was bound to get in the way. Yet, one by one, the obstacles were overcome.
The unions might not have been hugely supportive (it is, after all, their job to look for any negatives) but they did not attempt to wreck the deal.
Irish politicians who could have been difficult about surrendering the Irish flag-carrier to foreigners (and partly British foreigners at that) were won over by the logic of the deal combined with the fear of what they would do with the airline if IAG walked away.
Finally, Ryanair, who had a large minority stake in the airline and could have proved very obstructive, gave in and agreed to sell their shares. They were even quite nice about it and wished Aer Lingus all the best in the future. Being Ryanair they could not resist a dig and commented that their original plan to buy Aer Lingus had been to give them a stake in the middle-market but since their “being nice” campaign had been so successful, they no longer felt they needed a more up-market brand. Of course, they have been able to cash in a holding for a good price and avoid the huge expense of further litigation. Even Ryanair can, on occasions, see when a fight is no longer worth the effort.
Business does not normally do happy endings but this genuinely seems like one where all parties win.