Ireland's Aer Lingus strengthens its support for takeover bid by British Airways parent IAG

Irish airline Aer Lingus has issued a new statement strongly arguing in favor of its acquisition by British Airways parent IAG.

IAG officials spent two days in Dublin this week seeking to persuade the Irish government, the airline's No. 2 shareholder, to part with its 25.1 percent stake in the airline. IAG has stressed it won't proceed with its takeover bid, valuing Aer Lingus at 1.36 billion euros ($1.55 billion), unless the government agrees to sell.

In its statement Friday, Aer Lingus Chairman Colm Barrington says an IAG takeover would allow the airline to grow most strongly on North American routes, with Dublin Airport likely to grow as "a natural gateway" for trans-Atlantic travelers. Barrington says the proposed merger offers "a compelling strategic rationale" both for the airline and Ireland.