Union: Results prove that airline can survive alone

Impact — the largest trade union at Aer Lingus — has said the airline’s annual results prove it can exist as a strong independent business, and does not need to be taken over to remain a relevant player.

Union: Results prove that airline can survive alone

Aer Lingus yesterday reported a near 18% jump in operating profit for 2014, to €72m. Annual revenue was up by just over 9% at €1.56bn and its net cash position improved by almost 30% to €545.3m.

Short-haul revenue crept up from €789m to €791m, but the performance was mainly driven by growing cargo business and a near 30% jump in long-haul route revenue, to €490m.

As part of its results, Aer Lingus announced a 25% increase in annual dividend to 5c per share. Last year also saw the airline carry more than 11m passengers — the most it ever has in one year — although this figure included its Regional network, which is operated by Stobart Air.

“We profitably expanded our long-haul network, utilising our cost advantage and favourable geographic position and helped establish Dublin as the seventh largest European hub for transatlantic connections,” commented outgoing CEO, Christoph Mueller.

While the airline is constrained, by Irish Takeover Panel rules, from offering formal guidance on its 2015 outlook due to it being in an offer period, both its outgoing and incoming chief executives expressed confidence, yesterday, that this year will be another period of good growth for the business.

“I know that the entire Aer Lingus team has a lot of work planned for 2015 and I am confident that they will drive further improvements in profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement,” Mr Mueller said.

His replacement, Stephen Kavanagh, said that he was confident of further profit growth this year.

However, according to Impact — which has nearly 1,800 members working in Aer Lingus across pilots, cabin crew and adminstrative staff — the strong showing for the year proves that Aer Lingus remains in a strong position as an independent player and a crucial element in Ireland’s transport infrastructure.

The union added that it still has concerns over job and connectivity assurances from IAG and said it is “doubtful” IAG will address said issues.

Matt Staunton, Impact’s national secretary for Ireland, said Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe’s rejection of IAG’s current proposals, yesterday, recognises the issues of job losses and connectivity remain “significant barriers” to a takeover deal being done.

He added that IAG chief Willie Walsh has already confirmed that jobs would be lost through rationalisation if the takeover was successful, when addressing the Oireachtas transport committee earlier this month.

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