April 6: Aer Lingus announced that Dermot Mannion, the Group’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) would step down with immediate effect. Colm Barrington, Chairman of the Board, assumes executive responsibility for the Group until a new CEO is appointed. Meanwhile, Irish route rival easyJet also announced the future departure of its chairman Sir Colin Chandler on July 1, who took over from founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou in 2003.
Since joining Aer Lingus from Dubai-based Emirates in August 2005, Mannion oversaw the privatisation of the former state-owned airline in 2006 and has twice fended off acquisition bids by Ryanair. Last month he predicted Aer Lingus will post a loss for 2009 due to the waning demand for flights, leading to investor unrest at the direction the airline is taking and criticism from Ryanair, which owns almost 30% of Aer Lingus. On March 11 Michael O’Leary, CEO for Ryanair, called on Aer Lingus Chairman Colm Barrington to apologise for misleading shareholders and the Stock Exchange in its December ‘Defence Document’, where profitability for 2008 and 2009 was predicted – subsequently losses of €108m for 2008 were recorded.