High Court told Aer Arann has ‘reasonable prospect of survival’

Interim examiner Michael McAteer.

Interim examiner Michael McAteer.

Aer Arann has a “reasonable prospect of survival” and could return to profitability by next year, the High Court was told at a hearing held yesterday (Wednesday ) to determine the airline’s examinership status.

The airline which suffered loses of more than €18 million in the past 30 months, applied to the High Court for examinership on August 26 last with the result of Mr Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton being appointed interim examiner.

The airline’s representatives were back in court yesterday where it was decided that the company would be placed under a period of examinership for 50 days. The decision has been described as very positive by Aer Arann which must spend this time wisely and put in place a viable survival plan.

During the hearing Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan appointed Mr McAteer as examiner to Comhfhorbairt (Gaillimh ) trading as Aer Arann. This followed the presentation to the court of a report by Mr McAteer which stated that as a result of his examination of the company’s financial records and projections, his discussions with trade suppliers, and meetings with the key personnel of the company, he was of the opinion that the company has a “reasonable prospect of survival as a going concern”. Mr McAteer also confirmed that 14 different parties have expressed an interest in investing in the company. It is expected that a progress report will be presented to the court on October 11.

The appointment of Mr McAteer as examiner has been welcomed by Aer Arann chief executive Paul Schütz, who said that it was “very positive news for the company”.

In a statement released late yesterday afternoon Mr Schütz said: “As detailed in the court this morning the current difficulties in Aer Arann stem from external factors that were beyond our control. However we believe that we can build robust business and develop the airline so that we can continue to provide vital regional air connectivity.

“In this regard the appointment of Mr McAteer, the interest of 14 potential investors, and the aim to exit examinership within 50 days, must be regarded as extremely positive as we work to develop our services and preserve as many jobs as possible in the airline and in the airports that we serve.”

The airline, which employs 320 people in Ireland, operates air services to Dublin, London Luton, Lorient, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Waterford from Galway Airport. Management at the airport and local representatives have been hoping that that airline can use the examinership period to put together a survival plan.

Aer Arann will continue to operate normally during the period of examinership and will be flying a full schedule of Aer Arann services and Aer Lingus regional services operated by the airline under a franchise agreement.

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