The owner of British Airways has made a fresh bid to buy Aer Lingus.

It is understood discussions are underway this weekend to decide if the offer by the International Airlines Group, believed to be worth €2.50 a share should be accepted.

This would value the airline at €1.3bn.

The Aer Lingus board has already rejected two offers made by the International Airlines Group worth €2.30 and €2.40 a share.

However, reports today suggest the airline is edging closer to a deal with IAG boss Willie Walsh.

It comes a decade after Mr Walsh stepped down as Aer Lingus CEO, after a failed bid for a management buy-out of the carrier.

Analysts say it is not just history that makes Aer Lingus an attractive proposition for him.

Senior Equity Analyst in Transportation at Davy's Stephen Furlong said IAG's desire for additional runway slots at Heathrow and Aer Lingus’ existing operations are all of interest to the group.

If the offer is accepted it will be up to the Government, which holds a 25.1% share, to decide whether to accept or reject it.

This latest bid comes at a time when the other major shareholder, Ryanair, is coming under pressure to reduce its 29.9% stake in the airline on competition grounds.

Company that owns BA makes fresh Aer Lingus bid


 

In his only comment on the takeover reports, Minister for Transport Paschal said the Government's previously stated position in respect of the strategic importance of competition and connectivity in the Irish market remains a vital consideration.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport Timmy Dooley called on the transport minister to rule out any sale of the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus in order to protect Ireland’s strategic national interests.

Mr Dooley said: "IAG’s pursuit of Aer Lingus is becoming more aggressive with every passing week, and I am gravely concerned by the Minister Paschal Donohoe’s silence on the issue.

"I’m calling on him to categorically rule out any sale of the Government’s 25% stake in Aer Lingus, and by doing so effectively block the IAG takeover."

Both IAG and Aer Lingus are keeping quiet amid reports of the improved take-over bid.

All eyes will now be on the opening of the markets on Monday to see if any announcement about the future of Aer Lingus is made.

Read RTÉ Business Editor David Murphy's blog: 'Selling Aer Lingus to Willie Walsh is not just about money'