Ireland’s minister for transport, tourism and sport has admitted talks around IAG‘s bid for Aer Lingus have been “difficult” but hopes to see a conclusion “in the next few weeks”.

Speaking at today’s CAPA conference in Dublin, Paschal Donohue hailed the importance of Aer Lingus to the Irish economy stating it’s one of the country’s top 50 largest employers, which is why these talks have been of “great public interest”.

“We are engaged in ongoing contact with the IAG group, they have been difficult discussions as they are dealing with matters that of great interest ….but I’d have to acknowledge those discussions have always been taken in a workmanlike and positive way,” said Donohue.

“While the conversations are difficult because they focus in on matters that are of grave concern to this Government and to IAG, I’d have to also say they are being conducted in a tone that is workmanlike and positive.

“Because a conclusion one way or another would be of mutual interest to Aer Lingus, our country and IAG, we are continuing discussions with IAG now to reach that point…so I want to see those discussions conclude in the next few weeks,” he added.

Earlier this year, Aer Lingus confirmed it was willing to accept a takeover offer of €2.55 a share from British Airways owner IAG.

The Irish carrier said the proposed €1.36 billion bid was “subject to certain pre-conditions” and granted IAG access to perform a “limited period of confirmatory due diligence”.

Ryanair also has a large stake in Aer Lingus but is currently battling against a court ruling which has ordered it sell down its 30 per cent stake to around 5 per cent.

Ryanair claims that IAG’s recent bids to buy Aer Lingus “wholly disproves the unsubstantiated claim its shareholding prevents other airlines from merging with or bidding for Aer Lingus”.

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