Fianna Fáil warns that a sale of Aer Lingus would be ill-advised

Tourism body calls for Heathrow rights to be protected

Checking in at Heathrow. The Irish Hotels Federation has urged the Government to do everything in its power to ensure that Aer Lingus keeps its Heathrow landing slots in the long term.

Checking in at Heathrow. The Irish Hotels Federation has urged the Government to do everything in its power to ensure that Aer Lingus keeps its Heathrow landing slots in the long term.

 

Fianna Fáil says that a sale of Aer Lingus to International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) would be “ill advised”.

The Aer Lingus board has issued a statement confirming that it is prepared to recommend the group’s €1.36 billion bid for the Irish company.

Speaking on radio this morning, the main opposition party’s finance spokesman, Michael McGrath, argued that it would be in the State’s long-term interest to maintain its 25.1 per cent shareholding in the airline.

Mr McGrath added that there were unlikely to be any circumstances in which his party would back a sale of the airline to IAG, which is offering to buy the company for €2.55 a-share.

Fianna Fáil has concerns about possible job losses and the possibility that IAG will use Aer Lingus’s valuable landing rights at London’s Heathrow Airport for other, more profitable, routes.

The TD cited the example of Cork Airport - he represents Cork South Central - from which Aer Lingus flies to the London hub, and suggested that those routes could be vulnerable in the event of a take over.

He said that he saw nothing in Aer Lingus’s statement this morning to allay those fears.

The Irish Hotels Federation, one of the tourist industry’s most influential lobby groups, urged the Government to do everything in its power to ensure that Aer Lingus keeps its Heathrow landing slots in the long term.

Its president Stephen McNally said: “The Heathrow slots are of critical strategic importance to Ireland and the long-term prospects of our national tourism product.”

He warned that any agreement that fails to safeguard would have serious long-term implications for Irish tourism and air connectivity to the country, particularly the regions.

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