Irish airline Aer Lingus has posted a substantial drop in earnings that it chalked up to a long-running dispute over pensions. The carrier is in the midst of a takeover bid, which it says is imperative for future growth.
A protracted dispute over workers' pensions cut into Aer Lingus' bottom line last year, but the Irish airline was able to increase its operating profit before one-off items on the back of rising long-haul traffic to North America, it said Tuesday.
The Dublin-based carrier lost 95.8 million euros ($108.4 million) after taxes in 2014, down from a net gain of 34.1 million the year before. That's a difference of 129.9 million euros.
But Aer Lingus' outgoing chief executive, Christoph Müller, attributed the loss to a contentious debate over retirement schemes and noted that the airline's operating profit before such exceptional items had risen 17.8 percent to 72 million euros.
Takeover deal could boost growth
Aer Lingus is in the midst of a 1.36 billion-euro takeover bid by IAG, the owner of British Airways and Spanish airline Iberia.
The airline's board endorsed the offer last month but it now needs to calm government concerns to win shareholder approval. On Tuesday, Müller warned that his airline's future growth prospects could be put at risk if the deal is rejected.
But resistance to the deal persists among trade unions and politicians who fear it could cause job losses. Members of Ireland's Labour party are reportedly planning to oppose the takeover in an emergency motion at a party conference this weekend.
cjc/sgb (AFP, Reuters)