DAA won't reveal price paid for hangar Ryanair valued at €13m
THE Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) will not reveal how much Aer Lingus paid to lease a controversial hangar for which Ryanair offered €13m, with the promise of 500 jobs.
Aer Lingus signed a 20-year lease on Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport last Christmas Eve although it did not promise any new jobs, bar keeping on 96 former SR Technics workers already engaged in its line maintenance operation.
When asked what Aer Lingus paid for the lease, a DAA spokesman said: "We don't discuss matters that are commercially confidential."
Last summer, Ryanair offered the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) over €13m for the lease and €200,000 a year rent to set up a heavy maintenance base employing 500 engineers when SR Technics closed with the loss of 1,135 jobs. The offer was not taken up.
The Taoiseach told the Dail last week there was a competition for the hangar that Aer Lingus secured in December.
But the Department of Transport and the DAA appeared to contradict this by claiming Aer Lingus had "special rights" to the building.
In response to queries from the Irish Independent, the department said any tenant would first need Aer Lingus's approval to occupy the hangar. The DAA said the airline had "legal rights" relating to the hangar but declined to elaborate.
Last night, Ryanair called on Taoiseach Brian Cowen to explain how there could have been a competition if Aer Lingus had special rights to the hangar and explain why its offer was rejected.
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said the word "competition" was never used in any correspondence he received from the DAA, Tanaiste or IDA.
"We were never invited to participate in a competition and neither was Aer Arann or Cityjet," he said.
"What rights does Aer Lingus have? If it does have rights to the hangar, why did the DAA step in and buy the leasehold from SR Technics in the first place? Why did Aer Lingus not buy it directly from SRT? If there were rights, they couldn't have sold the freehold."
He claimed a "sweetheart" deal was done with Aer Lingus.
"Why was Mary Coughlan or the Department of Enterprise not taking any action when they clearly had no one interested in the hangar?" he asked.
The Department of Transport said Ryanair had been invited to put forward a proposal last September, but declined.
"Ryanair was informed that Aer Lingus, its main competitor at Dublin Airport, had rights to occupy and use Hangar 6 for the continued maintenance of its fleet and had indicated that it intended to continue to exercise those rights," it said.
"Notwithstanding that, Ryanair could have chosen, at that time, to engage with the parties involved to secure the use of the hangar. However, this could only be achieved with the agreement of Aer Lingus."
Meanwhile, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny hit back at claims by the head of the DAA, Declan Collier, that he misled the Dail by claiming the DAA gave "two fingers" to the jobs.
Mr Kenny said he did not want to "get into a correspondence" with Mr Collier but pointed out that the DAA is 100pc State-owned.
"What's at stake here is 300 hi-tech jobs where there are families involved and at a time when the Government itself is saying it will lose a further 70,000 jobs this year," he added.