IAG attracted by Aer Lingus's 'strong presence' in UK regions

Aer Lingus's "strong presence in the UK regions" has been identified by IAG as a factor in the group's decision to pursue the Irish flag carrier.

Speaking to analysts a day after the Irish government accepted IAG's offer for its shares in Aer Lingus, group chief Willie Walsh said the Irish carrier have given Dublin a "strong presence" in terms of connections to the UK's regions and that a merger would provide "opportunities" to serve existing IAG customers currently transferring through Dublin.

The IAG chief also sees "opportunities" to expand Aer Lingus's transatlantic network. "We believe Ireland is a very attractive market, not just point-to-point, but across connections with [our] Latin network and transatlantic," says Walsh, whose group already owns British Airways and Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling.

Dublin is the sixth-largest transatlantic hub in Europe, says Walsh, and "very much complements" IAG's transatlantic business. He notes "significant growth in recent years" in transfer traffic from the UK and “transcontinental" benefits.