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Mary begged Aer Lingus to let O'Leary have hangar

AER Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller has turned down a personal request from Tanaiste Mary Coughlan to move out of the controversial Hangar 6 at Dublin airport.

Ms Coughlan made the call to Mr Mueller ahead of her crunch meeting with Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary, it has emerged.

Mr Mueller, however, refused to allow Ryanair to take over the hangar, which is Ryanair's pre-condition for creating 300 jobs at the airport.

The Tanaiste's plea was part of last-ditch efforts to find agreement with the budget airline and secure the jobs.

Her spokesman said afterwards that it appeared Aer Lingus had its own plans for the hangar "the details of which we're not privy to". Aer Lingus has refused to comment on the issue.

Last night Mr O'Leary turned up outside the Burlington Hotel in Dublin where Taoiseach Brian Cowen was attending an event.

"The Government need to do one thing if they want to save 300 jobs here in Dublin airport. Call the DAA and ask them to move Aer Lingus, given that they have nothing in Hangar Six it won't take long and it won't be very complicated.

"We're not going to be screwed by the DAA again and again and again," he added.

While Ryanair says there is a "get-out" clause in the Aer Lingus hangar contract, the Tanaiste's spokesperson has insisted "it's black and white".

"It can't be done in this situation and the lease says the only exception is for development or operational purposes".

Taoiseach Brian Cowen claims Aer Lingus cannot be removed from Hangar Six without being given two years' notice. Failure to do so would amount to a breach of contract and would make the Government liable for damages to Aer Lingus for all losses suffered, he told the Dail.

The Dublin Airport Authority says moving one commercial tenant out to make way for another would breach the lease which, they say, specifically states this.

Mr O'Leary has demanded that Aer Lingus publish the lease. He insists there is no legal impediment to getting Aer Lingus out of the hangar.