Monday 19 February 2018

Not selling Aer Lingus may be the most prudent move

Selling the national carrier may net us a tidy sum, but could leave us without vital connectivity

An Aer Lingus plane over Heathrow, which is a British Airways hub
An Aer Lingus plane over Heathrow, which is a British Airways hub
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Should the government sell its 25pc stake in Aer Lingus, as appears imminent; or should it hang on to its minority shareholding in what was once known as the national carrier?

The debate on this matter has not always broken down along the usual, predictable lines. There are good reasons for that, not least because the decision is far from straightforward.

Senator Sean Barrett, a professor of economics at Trinity College Dublin, has been vocal in his opposition to offloading the State's shareholding. That is despite his being firmly in the free market camp on most transport issues, an area in which he is specialised. Donald Trump, an uber capitalist who usually opposes governments owning very much at all, has also come out against a sell-off on the basis that it could harm his investment in Ireland by making it harder to reach this island from the other side of the Atlantic.

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