The recent Aer Lingus investor day was all about “facts, facts, facts”, newly appointed chief executive Christoph Mueller told Airline Business.
The facts in question are the real financial position of the Irish carrier, not those put about by Ryanair, its main competitor and ironically of course its main shareholder.
Mueller is under no illusions about the task of turning around loss-making Aer Lingus, and his team set out the plan to investors on how this will be achieved. And while the gross cash position of the carrier fell by about £400 million in 2009, it still has a strong balance sheet with unencumbered cash of £825 million to hand.
Interest in the Aer Lingus story, prompted somewhat by its close encounters with Ryanair, saw some 80-90 financial types attend the Aer Lingus investor day. It was the first it had held since it went private in 2006, which is remarkable in itself.
While Mueller is keen to dispell any misinformation about Aer Lingus, he does have a word of sideways praise for the carrier’s biggest critic: ”In the absence of Ryanair we would be dead because nobody would have put sufficient pressure on us.”