Sunday 25 September 2016

Aer Lingus Takeover: Q & A

Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30

Aer Lingus Aircraft At Dublin Airport
Aer Lingus Aircraft At Dublin Airport

The Government has secured a number of concessions from IAG in relation to its planned takeover of Aer Lingus, but what does it all mean for the consumer, the worker and the country?

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Will I still be flying with Aer Lingus if IAG buys it, or will the name change?

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh has made it clear that IAG is an airline group with a number of different brands and that's the way it will continue to operate.

"Our vision is to be a multinational multi-brand airline group," he told an audience in Dublin last week. IAG owns British Airways, as well as Spanish airlines Iberia and Vueling. If it buys Aer Lingus, the name will continue to exist. The aircraft will still be painted in Aer Lingus colours, the website will still be an Aer Lingus website, and staff will still wear Aer Lingus uniforms.

And will IAG move the Aer Lingus headquarters?

No. In trying to secure the takeover, IAG has been very conscious of the emotional and political attachment to Aer Lingus. The airline will remain based in Ireland and will be run from Ireland.

What about jobs?

This has been one of the crunch issues for the Government and unions. In February, Mr Walsh pledged to create 635 net jobs at Aer Lingus. They would come on stream as IAG expands the Aer Lingus transatlantic network. However, he has also conceded some jobs would go. They're likely to be back-office jobs, in areas such as treasury, that would be centralised at IAG headquarters.

Will existing worker conditions be secured after a takeover?

Again, it's been a hugely significant issue for staff and unions. Trade union Impact has claimed IAG's assurances on jobs and connectivity are worthless, while Siptu said yesterday that the Government shouldn't sell its stake if IAG did not provide commitments that it would not impose compulsory redundancies or outsource jobs.

What other assurances have been given?

IAG has pledged to use Aer Lingus Heathrow slots to service only routes to Ireland for at least seven years following a takeover. It will also give the Government a veto over any possible sale of those slots in the future, and base eight extra transatlantic aircraft in Ireland.

What does it mean for the country?

Those opposed to the sale insist an Aer Lingus sale will lead to higher fares and, eventually, less connectivity to the US and Europe. Conversely, IAG's aim in buying Aer Lingus is to drive transatlantic traffic through Dublin, and expand those services. Continuing to attract passengers from the UK and Europe to the Dublin hub would also be part of the strategy.

But what about Cork and Shannon?

IAG has given assurances on Aer Lingus operations out of both airports, and could even look to boost services from Cork to mainland Europe.

But we won't own Aer Lingus any more?

The taxpayer hasn't owned it since Aer Lingus was sold off by the then Government and floated on the stock market in 2006. While the Government held on to its 25.1pc stake, Aer Lingus has been free to plot its own future since then.

Irish Independent

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