Save our Shannon have called on the Irish Government to enter into negotiations with IAG to acquire Aer Lingus.
Five years after the Government sold its 25.1% stake in Aer Lingus to International Airlines Group (IAG) for a fee of €355m, a Shannon Airport activist group has insisted negotiations between both parties involved in the deal must resume.
At the time of the May 2015 sale, the Department of Transport underlined five key commitments to the deal which it felt was most important. It included a stipulation that all existing slots at Heathrow would continue to be held by Aer Lingus in a legally binding manner for an unlimited amount of time. Schedules in Shannon, Cork, Dublin and London Heathrow were to be guaranteed for a period of seven years, the Department also noted.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Denis Vaughan of Save our Shannon described the sale of Government shares as “a disaster”. He believed that control of policies and routes was lost by the Government once the deal was completed. “Aer Lingus, as part of IAG is not concerned with what’s good for Shannon or in fact what’s good for Ireland, IAG’s only concern is to its short term survival during the pandemic and its long term profitability”.
He added, “The pandemic has created a fundamental change in the way that governments are exerting control on and investing in airlines in their territory. This creates an opportunity for the Irish Government to urgently enter into negotiations with IAG to repurchase Aer Lingus”.
National and regional economic priorities would dictate Aer Lingus’ policies and routes if led by the Government, the Ennistymon man affirmed. It is critically important that Ireland as an island nation has top quality air connections to the outside world. Connectivity is essential for tourism, trade, agriculture, multinational and Irish owned companies, our Irish diaspora and the many immigrants living in Ireland.
“Over many decades, Shannon Airport’s flights to North America, Britain and Europe have been a critical to the development of our economy. Without these flights, we will have fewer tourists, less international investment, less spend in all our business sectors and less jobs in the Mid West. The crisis continues to worsen, it’s time for action, we call for support for our proposal that our government should enter into negotiations with IAG and buy Aer Lingus”.