O'Leary demands publication of 'binding' lease
MARY Coughlan and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) insist that they cannot legally allow Ryanair to move into Hanger 6, where the carrier wants to create 300 jobs.
They claim that the only basis on which they could ask a tenant to move out of the hangar would be to facilitate development at Dublin Airport, such as a new runway.
Moving one commercial tenant out to make way for another would breach the lease, they argue, adding that the 20-year lease on the hangar specifically states this.
Nevertheless, Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary claims that there is no legal impediment to getting Aer Lingus out of the hangar, which is the largest at Dublin Airport -- and he is demanding that Aer Lingus publish the lease.
He argues that his airline would make better use of the hangar, which was purpose-built for heavy maintenance.
Mr O'Leary also claims it is under-used by Aer Lingus, which has a fleet of just 35 planes, compared with Ryanair's 200.
Instead of carrying out heavy maintenance at Hanger 6, Aer Lingus uses it for line maintenance -- routine checks, such as for oil and tyre pressure.
Its heavy maintenance -- which includes dismantling parts, such as wings -- is carried out in France.
Mr O'Leary has threatened to locate the 300 engineering jobs he offered at hangar 6 to a foreign base within months. A further 200 have already gone to Prestwick in Scotland.
However, a spokesperson for DAA said: "The lease on Hangar 6 cannot be legally terminated to replace one commercial customer with another.
"The only way a lease can be terminated is if the site is required for airport development or the operation of the airport. There is a legal lease there and the current company has a right to that."
A spokesperson for the Tanaiste agreed.
"It's black and white," he said. "It can't be done in this situation and the lease says the only exception is for development or operational purposes."
Ms Coughlan told Mr O'Leary on Tuesday that she did not have the power to ask the DAA to move Aer Lingus out.
Whatever the legalities of the existing lease, questions have been raised about the circumstances surrounding Aer Lingus's occupancy of the hangar in the first place.
Mr O'Leary has claimed that this was done deliberately in order to block his plans, following last year's departure of SR Technics.
However, sources on the other side have asked why Ryanair will not occupy one of the other available hangars, particularly Hangar 4, which can accommodate up to four 737s.
The maintenance operation that Ryanair is setting up at Prestwick for the first 200 of the 500 jobs he had offered to Dublin, is far smaller, at 6,000 sq m, than the 23,000 sq m available at Hangar 6.
However, Mr O'Leary has insisted that he needs a larger hangar because of the size of his company's fleet.