THE boss of the company behind the bid to buy Aer Lingus has admitted there would be some job losses at the group, but more would be created as the airline grows.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh will face questions from the Oireachtas Committee on Transport today about his company’s bid for the airline he used to run.
He said this morning that he is prepared to guarantee that slots at Heathrow would be retained.
Mr Walsh told Sean O’Rourke on RTE radio that IAG would put in place a cast-iron legally binding structure for the slots that would be stronger than the current provision and would survive any future sale of IAG.
However, he admitted that there would be a number of job losses at the national flag carrier.
“There certainly will be some jobs in Aer Lingus that are administrative that would be duplicated by administrative roles that we have elsewhere,” he said.
“We would be looking to reduce, in the head office, some jobs. But the big story is that we would grow the airline.
“I’m not for one minute suggesting that Aer Lingus will disappear overnight if this deal doesn’t go through.
“Aer Lingus will continue to perform pretty well, but its ability to grow in that environment will be restricted as everybody continues to grow around them.”
The airline chief said one area that would be considered for redundancies would be procurement.
“Aer Lingus is a relatively small airline and therefore doesn’t have the strength that IAG would have when it comes to dealing with the big suppliers,” he said.
“It makes sense to centralise that – it doesn’t make sense to have it spread out over the group.”
He rejected suggestions that Spanish airline Iberia lost thousands of jobs as a direct result of an IAG takeover.
“That’s complete nonsense,” he said.
“It happened a couple of years after we merged and it was in the middle of a very deep recession which impacted on Spain probably as much, maybe more, than it impacted on Ireland.
“Iberia was as an airline that was in need of restructuring and got into a much greater need for restructuring as a result of the deep recession that developed.
“It had nothing to do with the merger.”
Mr Walsh added that the IAG merger actually allowed Iberia to “survive through a period when they were incredibly vulnerable”.