Aer Lingus tonight effectively ended rival carrier Ryanair’s plans to takeover the in-demand hangar six at Dublin Airport.
Michael O’Leary’s budget airline has heaped pressure on the Government this week, claiming his airline would create 300 high value jobs if the building was handed over.
And he also published a letter stating he offered the Government guarantees last year restricting the use of a hangar to maintenance.
But an Aer Lingus spokeswoman flatly dismissed a move out for the former state airline.
“We have a 20-year agreement on the hangar six. The requirement for that hangar is for essential line maintenance. We will remain in the hangar,” she said.
“We are not in a position to give up the hangar.”
Mr O’Leary issued details of a letter sent to enterprise chiefs at IDA Ireland committing the carrier to only heavy aircraft maintenance at the sought-after building.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen has said there was an open competition for the hangar last summer which Ryanair did not enter, and it was subsequently leased to rival carrier Aer Lingus.
But Mr O’Leary said the letter, dated July 2009 to IDA’s Barry O’Leary, states the airline wanted the lease and offered to agree to any restrictions on what the site could be used for.
“The Taoiseach and this Government must now explain why, because of their inaction last July/August, they lost 200 maintenance jobs to Glasgow Prestwick last week and in the coming weeks will lose up to 300 more jobs to another European airport,” the airline boss said.
Ryanair opened a maintenance base in the Scottish airport last week.
Mr O’Leary said if their investment had been accepted last year it would have created 500 jobs just months after the SR Technics plant shut and 1,000 workers were laid off.
The Taoiseach said current tenants Aer Lingus cannot be asked to leave without giving 24 months’ notice.
Mr O’Leary has also warned that negotiations with two other European cities are at an advanced stage.
He said the letter to the IDA would dispel claims that Ryanair has a hidden agenda to eventually develop a new terminal on the site for its own planes.
“These claims are false and the Government knows that they are false,” the airline said.
Meanwhile, Fergus O’Dowd, Fine Gael transport spokesman, called for Mr O’Leary, Aer Lingus chief Christoph Mueller, the DAA and IDA to be called before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to thrash out a workable solution.
“The closure of SR Technics last year dealt a severe blow to North Dublin, so the possibility of reclaiming 300 jobs is an opportunity not to be missed,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“We have the skilled labour force and we have a business proposal before us. There have been various claims and counter-claims about the provision of facilities at Dublin Airport, and communications have now broken down.
“As the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, we cannot sit by and allow these jobs go abroad without inviting all parties to come to the committee next Wednesday to set out their stall.”