Aer Lingus chief executive Willie Walsh has made clear that his decision announced last week to resign is final and not a negotiating ploy, and that he has no job to go to.

Walsh, with chief operations officer Seamus Kearney and chief financial officer Brian Dunne, said last week that they would step down in May. Irish transport minister Martin Cullen says it is "with regret" that he accepts their resignations as all three have made a significant contribution to the turnaround of the airline over the past three years.

Walsh says the management team has taken the company "as far as we can" after transforming its fortunes since taking the helm in late 2001. "We've made the decision and we're definitely gone. People are probably surprised that we all came to the same view, but I had no hesitation and neither did the other two guys," he told Flight International sister publication Airline Business in an interview published in the magazine's December issue out this week.

It had become clear the trio's future strategy was incompatible with the views of Ireland's left-leaning government. While Walsh and his team consider their programme so far to be only the start of Aer Lingus' transformation, the government appears to have no stomach for the further cost and job cutting envisaged, let alone a full-scale privatisation with or without the executives' proposed management buy-out.

Faced with strong union opposition, the government is not expected to proceed with any type of sale before the 2007 general election.

Source: Flight International