Clare Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy says he believes a longer term guarantee can be secured from IAG in relation to Shannon Airport’s Heathrow slots and service levels along with “solid commitments” in relation to Aer Lingus’ transatlantic services.
The Shannon-based Senator last week threatened to resign the party whip if the Government sells its 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus to IAG on the basis of a 5-year Heathrow slot guarantee and in the absence of any commitment to future transatlantic services at the Clare airport.
“I made my position clear to Transport Minister Paschal Donoghue and at Wednesday night’s Parliamentary Party meeting and I believe the Government is committed to rebuking any approach for its 25.1% shareholding in the airline unless certain commitments are introduced as part of IAG’s offer. This includes IAG guaranteeing Shannon Airport’s Heathrow slots for a period greater than the five years offered and a defined commitment in relation to transatlantic services. Any offer from IAG that falls short of this would be simply unpalatable to me and for many senior Government colleagues,” said Senator Mulcahy
Senator Mulcahy expressed his disappointment with some Fine Gael TD’s who had indicated that they would support IAG’s bid in its current format, adding that they had “disregarded the concerns of the people of the West of Ireland”.
“Quality connectivity to and from Shannon Airport is extremely important for ensuring balanced regional development and attracting investment into the west of the country. The already proposed 5-year guarantee should be increased to give greater investor confidence while a long term commitment should be extended to transatlantic services,” he added.
“If Willie Walsh is as committed to growing business out of Shannon as he told me he was at a recent Joint Oireachtas Committee meeting, then delivering such guarantees as part of IAG’s bid for Aer Lingus should not be a problem. The Government’s 25.1% shareholding in Aer Lingus gives it significant bargaining power. Now is the time to use it which I am confident the Government will,” said Senator Mulcahy.