Saturday 16 November 2019

Siptu won’t support Aer Lingus sale to IAG unless guarantees given on connectivity and jobs

Aer Lingus emblem
Aer Lingus emblem
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Trade union Siptu won’t support a sale of the government’s 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus to IAG unless at any price unless there are “clear, tangible guarantees” in relation to connectivity and jobs.

Union representatives from IMPACT, Siptu and the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA) have been making presentations to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications this afternoon.

Captain Evan Cullen, the president of IALPA, said the 500 Aer Lingus pilots the union represents aren’t happy with the planned €1.4bn takeover of the airline by IAG.

He insisted a takeover “is not good” for the pilots or their families.

Aer Lingus pilots control about 7pc of the airline, via 2.5pc that’s held in a pension scheme, another stake that’s held in a vehicle originally established to try and thwart a Ryanair takeover approach, and other shares held directly by pilots.

Mr Cullen said the union had not been contacted regarding the takeover approach.

Mr Cullen claimed that the only benefit that Aer Lingus might possibly derive from a takeover by IAG, which is headed by Willie Walsh, could be on aircraft purchasing. But he said that Aer Lingus has already negotiated in conjunction with Gulf carrier Etihad in talks with Airbus.

He also claimed IAG does not have a reputation of retaining agreements such as Aer Lingus has with Stobart Air, which operates Aer Lingus Regional. However, Stobart Air has a 10-year contract with Aer Lingus.

Mr Cullen also claimed that the Dublin Airport Authority treats Terminal 2 as a “shopping mall” rather than investing in the aviation facilities such as taxiways for servicing the terminal.

TDs and Senators also queried the amount of money that senior Aer Lingus executives and management could be in line to receive if an IAG takeover went ahead. They could get those payments under the Aer Lingus long term incentive plan.

IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton insisted that a takeover entails “significant risk” for Aer Lingus and the country.

He said that when Willie Walsh was chief executive of Aer Lingus between 2001 and 2004 “2,500 Irish jobs disappeared forever”.

The Oireachtas committee hearing is taking place amid a vacuum of information from IAG and Aer Lingus.

IAG has indicated that it will retain connectivity, the Aer Lingus brand and Aer Lingus management if it buys the airline.

Willie Walsh has already met Aer Lingus executives and politicians in an effort to persuade them that a takeover will be a good deal for the Irish airline and the country.

Representatives from Shannon Airport are among those that will also address the Oireachtas committee this afternoon.

Online Editors

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