Brexit: Aer Lingus to be ‘majority owned and controlled’ by Irish trust

The owner of Aer Lingus has announced changes to its ownership structure, as a result of Brexit.

International Airlines Group (IAG) says it has implemented plans to ensure that its EU licensed airlines “continue to comply with EU ownership and control rules”.

Under European Union rules, the holder of an operating licence must be majority owned and effectively controlled by member states and/or nationals of member states.

These plans have been approved by national regulators in Ireland and Spain.

They include the implementation of a national ownership structure for Aer Lingus.

IAG says this will be similar to the national ownership structure of Spain’s Iberia, which is majority owned and controlled by a Spanish national company.

This is to be done with an Irish trust.

While the IAG board of directors has also been changed so that it has a majority of EU non-executive directors.

Heather Ann McSharry, Peggy Bruzelius and Eva Castillo-Sanz have all joined it all with immediate effect.

This sees three other people – including Chief Financial Officer Steve Gunning – removed from the board.

However, Mr Gunning’s executive functions remain unchanged.

It comes as IAG’s chairman, Antonio Vázquez, is due to retire in January which will reduce the IAG board to 11 directors.

On the changes, Mr Vázquez said: “It is disappointing that it has become necessary to make these changes to the board.

“However, we are pleased that the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement recognises the potential benefits of further liberalisation of airline ownership and control because we believe that it is in the best interests of the industry and consumers.”

Separately, British Airways – which is also part of IAG – is to receive a stg£2bn (€2.22bn), five year loan.

This loan has been underwritten by a syndicate of banks and partially guaranteed by UK export credit agency, UKEF.

The parent company says British Airways expects to drawdown the facility in January 2021.

IAG is a Spanish-registered company, with shares traded on the Madrid and London stock exchanges.

Main image: Aer Lingus jets parked up on the runway of Dublin Airport in April 2020. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Archive/PA Images