Thursday 18 July 2019

Minister: I won't wait months for Aer Lingus deal

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD outside Dail Eireann.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD outside Dail Eireann.

Niall O'Connor and Colm Kelpie

AIRLINE giant IAG is running out of time in its bid to persuade the Government of the merits of selling off its stake in Aer Lingus, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned.

Mr Donohoe insists that the five-year guarantee over the Heathrow slots is "not enough".

But, significantly, the Dublin Central TD says IAG has still not satisfied him in terms of jobs, connectivity and transatlantic routes.

Mr Donohoe said the Government is not willing to wait months for an improved deal in a clear warning to IAG chief executive Willie Walsh.

"The Government position on Aer Lingus is that it will not be sold unless the market conditions are favourable, the terms of the sale are satisfactory to the Government and an acceptable price is secured," Mr Donohoe said.

"I have said that the door to IAG remains open and that Government remains open to considering any improved proposal which IAG may bring.

Decision

"I do not envisage this process being drawn out across the months ahead but rather that a decision would be made, one way or another, sooner rather than later," he added.

Mr Donohoe said that his concerns are still based on a series of factors, including the share price.

Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris said the Government must consider the consequences of not selling its stake after all.

Also speaking yesterday, Aer Lingus chairman Colm Barrington said a potential deal with IAG would be good for jobs and connectivity, admitting that the uncertainty around the sale is not good for Aer Lingus.

"It's obviously more difficult to operate a company when you don't know what your ownership situation is going to be like in the future so, yes, we would like to bring this to a conclusion sooner rather than later," Mr Barrington told RTE.

"The two big words that have been used over this deal over the last few weeks have been connectivity and jobs.

"And if anybody is really interested in connectivity and jobs regarding Aer Lingus, they should support this deal wholeheartedly, because it's fantastic for connectivity and it's very good for jobs," he added.

Outgoing Irish Congress of Trade Unions chief David Begg said he doesn't believe that the Government should sell its stake.

Irish Independent

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