A decision on the proposed sale of the State’s 25.1% stake in Aer Lingus is not expected for “some time”, according to Tánaiste Joan Burton.
Ms Burton said no decision has been made by the Government as to whether it will accept a bid from Willie Walsh’s International Airlines Group (IAG) for its shareholding.
The Labour leader — whose party is believed to be split on whether to support the deal — said work is ongoing on a report being compiled by a Government-appointed review group.
Ms Burton claimed she is not aware of the study being finalised despite media reports that a decision is due as early as this week.
“There is a whole series of discussions which are ongoing, but there has been no decision reached and I don’t anticipate that there will be for some time,” Ms Burton said.
“I am not aware that their report is complete. There are a number of extremely serious factors in relation to our livelihood as a country in terms of connections.”
Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has already rejected IAG’s advances and sought greater guarantees over the use of Heathrow’s valuable landing slots on routes to Irish airports including Cork and Shannon.
British Airways parent company IAG had said that it would not offer more than a five-year guarantee on the Heathrow slots but is believed to be willing to increase this to seven years in a compromise it hopes will see its €1.36bn bid accepted.
Should the Government decide to part with the State’s stake, Cabinet approval will be needed before putting the decision to the Dáil.
Labour TDs have also expressed concern over the level of potential job losses that would arise from an IAG takeover.
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