Low share price putting companies off Aer Lingus

ONE of the world’s top airline chiefs believes no company would consider buying Aer Lingus while its share price is so low.

British Airways chief Willie Walsh who is a former chief executive of Aer Lingus, said the fact that the airline’s share price is “pretty static” at 65 cent says to him that “nobody is looking at it while that uncertainty exists”.

Mr Walsh was at the Global Irish Economic Forum yesterday, where businessman Denis O’Brien joined others in saying that Ireland needs to promote itself more abroad and build its confidence.

Mr O’Brien said the country needs to market itself and he feels the Irish abroad may finance this.

Chief executive of Etihad Airlines James Hogan said that said he has confidence in Ireland as a destination, adding that the country needs to be “much more bullish about the future”.

“I don’t hear this negative talk about Ireland. Our aircraft are 80% full coming out of Ireland,” he said.

“Irish businesses are coming into the Middle East.”

John McColgan of Riverdance fame also said the country needs to recapture who it is and get its confidence back after it has had a “bruising”.

The businessmen were speaking as part of a panel discussion at the Global Irish Economic Forum yesterday.

Also on the panel was Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who said that Ireland’s reputation internationally has not diminished, but that the country needs to rebuild confidence in itself.

“We need to get into our psyche that we’re a good country,” he said.

“We need to convince ourselves of that.”

He admitted that Ireland has “made a mess” of the banking and property sectors but said it can recapture what it is good at.

Actor Gabriel Byrne believes that the country’s poets, writers, musicians and actors can be a vital calling card for companies looking for a foot in the door abroad.

“I think artists lay out the carpet before businessmen, whether businessmen like to admit it or not,” he said.

“You can’t quantify the benefit of culture and art and drama and education in harsh, cold economic terms but in the long term there is no question about it whatsoever.

“Without Yeats, Synge, O’Casey, Joyce, Heaney and U2, the profile of Ireland would be much poorer.”

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