Wednesday 21 February 2018

Samantha McCaughren: Aer Lingus chief lashes the DAA over airport facilities

Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

If new DAA ceo Dalton Philips is curious about the reception that awaits him when he takes up his role next month he should grab a copy of the latest UCD Connections alumni magazine, which contains an frank interview with Aer Lingus ceo Stephen Kavanagh. In it Kavanagh details the conflict between the two companies, first revealed in these pages some months ago.

Kavanagh hits out at DAA's plans to build a new runway without first improving existing infrastructure: "A runway is of no use if you can't reach it."

When Terminal 2 was built certain investment cases weren't made, he said: "Terminal 2 is now full, the airport is now incredibly congested and constrained, so there are investment cases that now make sense and need to be made."

He also sounds extremely displeased about the service Aer Lingus gets from DAA in terms of gate positioning for connecting flights as it attempts to turn Dublin into a gateway hub. "If we had sufficient access as an anchor tenant to the resources in T2 - not exclusively but with priority to reflect our home base - that we would be capable of executing our strategy."

Aer Lingus, he says, gets pushed aside to make room for new American and Middle Eastern carriers: "We're already paying the same as everybody else, but we're not getting the same treatment as everybody else".

Over to you Mr Philips.

Publicans find short school holidays hard to swallow

The kids may be well settled back to school but support for longer school holidays has come from an unexpected quarter.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), which represents thousands of rural pubs, is unhappy about schools reopening in late August and has been busy lobbying to raise its concerns.

Contact has been made with Minister for Education Richard Bruton and tourism minister Brendan Griffin.

Publicans want the ministers to review the attendance cycle in schools.

“Many schools are returning to class in the last week in August, which eats into what was previously the holiday period of the full months of July and August,” says the VFI.

“This would help the tourist businesses in the tourist areas that are dependent on the summer months to generate a level of income that ensures viability year round.” The start of a “more pints for parents” campaign, perhaps?

* * * *

Posh burgers are going down a treat these days so Bunsen Burger, which started life on Dublin’s Wexford Street, is beefing up its expansion plans.

I hear Belfast is next on the trail for Bunsen, which was set up by Tom Gleeson, a business and politics graduate.  The 32-year-old, who has worked in top restaurants including Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, now has five restaurants in the Republic.

The chain will take on the ground floor of Longbridge House at Waring Street in Belfast city centre, which is owned by BJ Eastwood’s firm, Wirefox. It will seat around 70 diners.

Bunsen has four locations in Dublin and one in Cork.  The chain opened in Wexford Street in 2013, and has since expanded this location.

In Belfast it will face some stiff competition, and not just from McDonald’s. Brett, Ross and Derry Desmond, sons of financier Dermot Desmond, have already opened a Five Guys restaurant there, and may open two more.

Older RTE staffers’ heads not being turned by exit package

The much-talked about RTE redundancy scheme is well under way with booklets distributed and one-on-one meetings with financial advisers in full swing.

For its restructuring plan to work, it needs around 250 people to take the package, capped at two years’ salary.

RTE cannot be seen to be ageist but it is particularly keen to move on the over-55s. Not only are they among the best paid, they also have defined benefit scheme pensions, with around 200 staffers still on the scheme.

But I hear that the response from that group has been disappointing, so RTE  mightn’t get the numbers it needs.

As revealed by this newspaper, officials at the Department of Public Expenditure raised their eyebrows at the generosity of the package when compared with other public sector deals. But with the media market on shaky ground, perhaps the over-55s have been around long enough to know when to stick with a good thing.

* * * *

Former secretary general of the European Commission Catherine Day has been appointed chair of Chester Beatty Library, taking over from outgoing chairman TP Hardiman, a former director general of RTE. 

The Dublin woman has had a lengthy career in Europe, in which she worked in the cabinets of commissioners Richard Burke, Peter Sutherland and Leon Brittan.

Day was secretary general of the European Commission from 2005 until 2015 and notably was the first woman to hold this position.

Day described the Chester Beatty Library as one of the most significant cultural institutions in Ireland. “Increased visitor numbers and positive visitor reactions show that our visitors are delighted to discover the treasures that were gifted to the people of Ireland by Chester Beatty.”

She is currently a special adviser to the president of the Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, who last week sparked renewed debate on Irish treasures of a different kind.

Sunday Indo Business

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