IAG says Dublin will become US gateway by 2020

Group’s bid includes pledges on Heathrow links and boosting State’s three airports

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG: The group also said the Aer Lingus service from Knock Airport to Gatwick would be maintained. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

Willie Walsh, CEO of IAG: The group also said the Aer Lingus service from Knock Airport to Gatwick would be maintained. Photograph: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg

 

International Consolidated Airline’s Group’s (IAG) €1.4 billion bid for Aer Lingus includes pledges on maintaining links to Heathrow Airport and commitments to boost business at the State’s three airports.

The group confirmed that Aer Lingus will maintain its landing and take-off rights at Heathrow and that these will not be sold without the Government’s agreement.

It also stated that those slots would be used to maintain current services from the Republic’s three State airports, Cork, Dublin and Shannon, to the London hub for seven years, an improvement on its original offer of five years.

A new B share issued to the Minister for Finance will underpin the Government’s veto on the sale of the slots and the commitment to maintaining services to the London hub.

IAG plans to use Dublin airport to feed traffic from Europe to North America, increasing services steadily over the next five years to the point where Aer Lingus will operate eight extra long-haul craft from the capital’s gateway across the Atlantic.

It will expand that business to the point where the Irish airline will carry 2.4 million extra passengers to North America by 2020.

Aer Lingus has said that this will result in the creation of 635 new jobs at the company over the next five years.

In a document detailing the terms of its offer released late last night, IAG predicts it will have added 150 new jobs at the airline by the end of next year.

IAG also indicates that it intends to boost business at the State’s other airports. It says it will increase capacity on Shannon’s services to Boston and New York and consider increasing the existing British Airways flights from the mid-west airport.

The British-based group says Cork’s Aer Lingus services to Paris and Amsterdam will be maintained. It also promises to pursue “growth opportunities” with business and tourism interests in the Munster area.

IAG pledges that Aer Lingus’s service from Knock Airport in Co Mayo to London Gatwick will also be maintained.

The group said it believes that under its ownership, Aer Lingus will have “significantly improved” ability to grow its presence at other key Irish airports, using IAG’s resources and broader network.

Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington described it as a “compelling” deal for the airline, its shareholders, staff, customers and the country.

He predicted that it would “lead to an increase in jobs at Aer Lingus, in support activities and the tourism sector, and, importantly, will strengthen connectivity to and from Ireland”.

IAG’s Irish chief executive Willie Walsh also said that it would benefit Aer Lingus and the country. “Aer Lingus would maintain control of its brand and operation while gaining strength as part of a profitable and sustainable airline group in an industry that’s consolidating,” he added.

Dublin Airport Authority chief executive Kevin Toland welcomed the news that the Government is prepared to back IAG. He pointed out that Dublin and Cork airports support more than 108,000 jobs.

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