Having already received a EUR150 million euros (USD174 million) loan from the Irish sovereign wealth fund last year, Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) is in talks with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) to secure additional funding.

Conor O’Kelly, chief executive of the government’s National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which is responsible for the ISIF, confirmed in a parliamentary meeting that “we are in discussions with Aer Lingus to see if it needs further assistance, which we may be able to help with.”

He was speaking on October 7 during a meeting of the Committee of Public Accounts, a standing committee of Dáil Éireann, the Irish parliament’s lower house, in response to a question posed by Alan Dillon, a politician with the party Fine Gael.

In relation to Aer Lingus and the handful of other mostly travel-related companies that have sought help, O’Kelly stressed: “We are seen as an investor of last resort. These companies are well managed and have their own shareholder base and financial providers. If they need money, they can approach other providers of capital, it does not have to be the government. The government is there as a safety net and the provider of investment capital of last resort.”

O’Kelly confirmed that the fund had so far committed about EUR800 million (USD926 million) to Covid-hit companies out an available total of EUR2 billion (USD2.3 billion), half of which has been allocated during 2021. The loan provided to Aer Lingus, and reported on in February, was made in two tranches, with the second of which was drawn down in March.

Shortly after that loan was confirmed, Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s former prime minister and current deputy prime minister, told the parliament that the government was engaged in confidential talks with the IAG International Airlines Group-owned carrier about more support and assured that the airline would survive the crisis.

Later, in June, Aer Lingus’ new chief executive officer, Lynne Embleton, revealed that the Irish flag carrier needed several hundred million euros in additional liquidity due to Ireland’s tough anti-Covid travel restrictions. In July, when the airline’s operations lost EUR192 million (USD222 million) in its first-half results, similar to the EUR189 million (USD219 million) loss in the first six months of 2020, she said a second ISIF loan was likely.

According to the Irish Independent newspaper, in recent weeks leaks have emerged hinting that the NTMA and the airline have been at odds regarding potential additional loans, but O’Kelly assured that the two remain in dialogue.

Aer Lingus has also been cutting costs and, in August, Aer Lingus (United Kingdom) (Belfast City) received its Operating Licence (OL) from the UK Civil Aviation Authority with the politically controversial aim of moving assets offshore to launch transatlantic flights from Manchester Int'l.