Aer Lingus in talks for hundreds of millions of euros in extra liquidity

Aer Lingus needs a few hundred million euros in extra liquidity due to COVID-19 disruptions and does not expect the easing of Irish travel curbs next month to provide a significant near term bounce, its new chief executive said on Tuesday.

The Irish airline, which recently announced company-wide layoffs and the closure of one of its main domestic cabin crew bases, is losing more than 1 million euros ($1.19 million) a day, Lynne Embleton told an Irish parliamentary committee.

It is in funding talks with the Irish state and its parent International Airlines Group (ICAG.L), having already received a 150 million euro loan from Ireland’s sovereign wealth fund last year.

“We are looking to restore our liquidity to the tune of a few hundred million euros. The precise numbers depend on where we can access liquidity from, the terms of that liquidity and indeed the number of days we continue to burn cash,” she said.

Embleton said the decision to close the carrier’s base at Shannon Airport, one of its four main domestic hubs, did not signal a strategic retreat from Ireland’s regions. But she said she could not give assurances there would be no more job losses.

Ireland’s airlines have been highly critical of the government’s COVID-19 travel curbs which for months have been the strictest in the European Union.

Ireland will adopt the EU’s COVID-19 certificate to help citizens move more freely across the bloc from July 19, as well as broadly applying the same approach to Britain and the United States.

“It is looking too little too late to have a significant bounce that will get us on the right path to restoring connectivity, supporting jobs in the near term,” Embleton said, citing curbs for unvaccinated travellers from Britain and the United States.

“We will be smaller for some time to come unfortunately and it will take a long time to fully recover,” she said.

($1 = 0.8406 euros)