Business Irish

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Businesses may have no say in veto over slots at Heathrow

Published 16/04/2015 | 02:30

IAG said in February that it intended to give the Government a veto over any possible future sale of prized take-off and landing slots controlled by Aer Lingus at Heathrow in the event that IAG succeeds in its €1.4bn takeover of the Irish airline
IAG said in February that it intended to give the Government a veto over any possible future sale of prized take-off and landing slots controlled by Aer Lingus at Heathrow in the event that IAG succeeds in its €1.4bn takeover of the Irish airline

Business groups could be sidelined from having any direct say in a veto that IAG wants to give the Government over any future disposal of Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow.

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IAG said in February that it intended to give the Government a veto over any possible future sale of prized take-off and landing slots controlled by Aer Lingus at Heathrow in the event that IAG succeeds in its €1.4bn takeover of the Irish airline.

It was understood at the time that the Chambers of Commerce in Dublin, Shannon and Cork could also have a say in that veto, in an effort by IAG to help assuage any concerns about continued connectivity to the country's three biggest airports.

But the chief executives of the Shannon and Dublin Chambers of Commerce say they have not been contacted about the planned veto powers by either the Department of Transport or a steering group it chairs and which was established to advise the Government about whether or not it should sell its 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus.

Helen Downes, the chief executive of Shannon Chamber of Commerce, and Gina Quin, the chief executive of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, said their organisations have not been contacted about the planned veto concession.

The chief executive of Cork Chamber of Commerce, Conor Healy, declined to say whether there had been any contact with his organisation on the matter since February. However, he said connectivity remained the key issue for the group.

But Ms Downes and Ms Quin insisted they were not concerned that they had not been canvassed on the issue. "For us, it's about securing a guarantee on connectivity," said Ms Downes.

IAG has offered a guarantee to the Government that it will use Aer Lingus Heathrow slots to only serve Irish routes for at least five years following a takeover. The Government has pushed for a 10-year pledge.

Ms Quin said she was not surprised the Dublin Chamber of Commerce had not been contacted about the planned veto. "I wouldn't expect it to be activated until the deal is done," she said.

Irish Independent

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