Aer Lingus Group reported total passenger numbers of 1,126,000 for the month, representing an increase of 0.9% compared with August last year. The number of short-haul passengers declined, while long-haul flights saw an increase of 17.5%. The announcement comes a day after rival Ryanair stated its profits will be at the lower end of expectations, and it must be pointed out that Michael O’Leary is good at managing expectations.
Ryanair has made several unsuccessful attempts to take over Aer Lingus. Last month the European competition commission blocked a takeover proposal and ordered Ryanair to sell its 25% stake in Aer Lingus. Ryanair has previously tried to sell the shareholding to a Middle Eastern airline, but this was to no avail.
It is not in Ryanair’s interest to offload a large number of Aer Lingus shares into the market, as the share price could take a dive. However, Aer Lingus shareholders need to be cautious in case short sellers take a large position ahead of Ryanair unravelling its position in Aer Lingus.