News Irish News

Saturday 24 February 2018

Taoiseach has 'island mentality' - Cityjet executive

Cityjet boss Pat Byrne
Cityjet boss Pat Byrne
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A SENIOR figure at Cityjet has said Ireland "would be nuts" not to accept the IAG offer for Aer Lingus - and he accused Taoiseach Enda Kenny of "protectionism" and "an island mentality".

Pat Byrne, non-executive chairman of Cityjet, said if the Government accepted IAG's €1.4bn deal for Aer Lingus, it would lead to job expansion.

However, he said Enda Kenny is currently engaged in a strategy of "protectionism" which is harming Ireland's business reputation.

The Government currently controls 25.1pc of Aer Lingus and holds the key to the €1.4bn deal.

Mr Byrne said: "Enda goes around the world saying we're the best little country to do business in and yet what he's now talking about is the politics of protectionism, and protectionism never, ever succeeds. It always fails, we've a long history of that.

"They're going on about trying to protect our rights as an island nation. In fact what they're doing is telling the world that we actually have an island mentality. You can't lock jobs in by protectionism and negative movement and I think that's what they're trying to do.

"I think they're failing to grasp the big picture of the expansionist opportunities that are here for Ireland."

Mr Byrne said Dublin Airport could become a major European hub for immigration services, and a major competitor of hubs in the Middle East.

While a lack of guarantees on jobs at Aer Lingus is seen as a major stumbling block in negotiations, Mr Byrne said the deal would lead to job expansion.

"IAG are not sitting idly by and watching their lunch being stolen by the Middle East operators, Etihad, Emirates, who are sucking all of the long-haul traffic out of Europe and using their hubs in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi and Dubai," he said on Newstalk Breakfast.

Mr Byrne cautioned that the Government must apply business logic to its decision on the IAG bid, and not be seen as a "pretty poor shareholder" in the negotiations.

"I think it's all or nothing. I can't see IAG wanting to have a minority shareholder," he said.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News