Aer Lingus chief executive steps down

Dermot Mannion has resigned as chief executive officer of Aer Lingus after four years, the company said today.

In a statement, the former flag-carrier said that Mannion had informed the Board of his intention to step down, and the Board had accepted his decision.

“It has been a privilege to serve as Aer Lingus CEO for the past four years and to have led the company through a period of profound change," the statement quoted Mr Mannion as saying

"I would like to thank the Board, management and all employees for their commitment during my time with the group. My decision to step down will allow a new CEO to bring fresh thinking and new ideas to the business.”

The company said the process to appoint a new CEO had begun, with Chairman of the Board Colm Barrington to fill the position on an interim basis.

“On behalf of the Board and management team, I would like to thank Dermot for his significant contribution to the group over the past four years, " Mr Barrington said.

"We would like to record our appreciation for his loyalty and dedication to Aer Lingus.”

Sean Coyle, a former executive at Ryanair before moving to Aer Lingus, is being widely tipped as a possibly replacement.

Mr Mannion led the airline through several turbulent years, seeing off bold takeover challenges from Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair, quelling union unrest and driving a massive cost-cutting and restructuring plan to save tens of millions.

He took up the CEO position in August 2005, succeeding Willie Walsh, who had left for the top position at British Airways.

Mr Mannion, who also worked with Emirates, oversaw the development of new long-haul routes to the US and the Middle East and was in charge as the airline was floated on the stock exchange in September 2006.

He also faced severe criticism from regional tourism and business chiefs after he axed the Shannon-Heathrow route in favour of flights in and out of Belfast but the service has since been partially reversed.

Aer Lingus made a loss of almost €120m in 2008. Losses of €55m are forecast for this year.

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