Staff at Aer Lingus are set to receive a bonus next week as part of a gain-sharing programme that helped to turn the airline around, according to Chief Executive Christoph Mueller.

Announcing the airline's annual results for 2011, he said that the Greenfield cost reduction programme had already achieved savings of €84m, and would achieve the remaining €12m by the end of 2012.

The airline had originally set aside €25m for a 'gain-sharing' scheme for staff - subject to targets being met.

Having met its targets in 2010, staff shared a bonus of €6.25m early last year.

If the remuneration committee approves it in the coming days, a second tranche of €6.25m will be shared between the 3,700 employees next week.

Mr Mueller said the amount employees would receive depends on their pay scale, but would be a good payback for their contribution to turning the airline around.

He said the key difficulties facing the airline in 2012 were the muted economic environment, fuel costs and airport charges.

The chief executive described 2011 as a very strong year despite a slow start. He confirmed that Aer Lingus had been hit very hard by rising fuel prices, and expects its fuel bill to increase by €60m in 2012.

Mr Mueller pointed out that travel taxes and airport charges have now surpassed €50 per leg of a flight.

He said so far they had not needed to pass those charges onto the passenger, but warned that if there were no end in sight, the airline could not pay it out of its own pocket.

Aer Lingus's goal for 2012 is to stay profitable, and he confirmed that they would be in the market to buy additional slots at Heathrow if they became available.

He also confirmed that no staff member had been disciplined following the "leave and return" controversy which cost the airline €34m.