Ireland denies Etihad talks on Aer Lingus stake

Irish Government says meeting with Etihad CEO limited to 'tourism matters'
Etihad Airways is not holding talks on taking a stake in Irelands Aer Lingus, according to the Irish Government
By Andy Sambidge
Sat 07 Jan 2012 09:45 AM

Ireland has no plans to discuss the sale of its stake in Aer Lingus Group to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, a government spokesman has said.

Leo Varadkar, the Irish transport minister, will meet with Etihad CEO James Hogan during a visit to the Gulf, but will limit talks to “tourism matters" John Carroll, the spokesman, told Bloomberg on Friday.

The comments came after Dubai daily Gulf News reported earlier on Friday that the meeting would include a discussion of Ireland’s 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus.

Etihad, which launched flights to Dublin in 2007, announced a recruitment drive in Ireland in October to find at least 100 new Irish employees to support the carrier's growth around the world.

Also in October, the UK's Financial Times said that Etihad had approached the Irish Government regarding its stake in Aer Lingus.

At the time, Varadkar said that he would not sell it for less than €1 per share, which would value the stake at €132.4m ($168.4m) and Aer Lingus at €529.6m, the newspaper said.

Etihad Airways said December 19 it would increase a stake in Air Berlin to 29 percent and provide financing for the purchase of new aircraft.

As part of the deal the German carrier will share flight codes with Etihad and shift flights from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.

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