The Irish government has agreed to sell its 25% stake in Aer Lingus to IAG, the owner of British Airways and Iberia.
The deal comes after IAG pledged to retain certain jobs and transport links within the Irish Republic.
Although the Irish government and the board of Aer Lingus now support the €1.36bn (US$1.08bn) bid, Ryanair, which owns 29.8%, has yet to commit.
IAG said it was “hopeful” Ryanair would agree to the offer.
Low cost carrier Ryanair has itself attempted to take over Aer Lingus on three occasions dating back to 2006 but it was prevented from a full takeover on the grounds it would give it dominance over travel to and from the Republic of Ireland.
Willie Walsh, the Chief Executive of IAG, commented: “We’re hopeful that Ryanair will see this as an attractive offer for their stake in Aer Lingus and we will wait to see what Ryanair and the Ryanair board says in response to this.”
The deal will require IAG to maintain current services between Heathrow and Dublin, Cork and Shannon for at least seven years.
It has also promised to add two new transatlantic routes next year and 2.4 million more passengers by 2020.
(Photo: Craig West)