Aer Lingus landing, take-off slots worth half the offer price

Accountancy firm Deloitte has told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that Aer Lingus’s landing and take-off slots are worth between €770m and €925m.

This is more than half the €1.36 billion price that International Consolidated Airlines Group — the parent company of British Airways — has offered for Aer Lingus.

The Oireachtas committee heard from a number of interested parties in relation to the potential sale of the Government’s stake in Aer Lingus.

They included representatives of union groups and chambers of commerce in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, and Shannon.

Committee chairman John O’Mahony TD, said the discussions were an extremely useful exercise in assessing the likely impact of a potential sale of the Government stake in Aer Lingus on employment, industry and tourism.

“The issue that came up again and again was connectivity and the importance of the 24 Heathrow slots to Irish business,” he said.

“The potential risk of job losses, should IAG take over the State holding and gain control of those slots, was discussed at length.”

Mr O’Mahony said the committee was anxious to ensure that any decision taken by Government in relation to a potential takeover is based on ensuring that the strategic interests of the country are not undermined.

“The presentations from union groups stressed the importance of protecting the jobs of those directly employed by Aer Lingus, as well as those individuals working in industries directly affected. Foreign direct investment and maintaining quality, sustainable, direct labour were raised repeatedly by committee members and presenters alike.”

He added: “The chambers of commerce and Shannon Group PLC flagged their concerns over the Heathrow slots and the regional imbalance that could occur, should the stake in Aer Lingus be sold.

“They raised issues surrounding the loss of valuable routes such as Cork, Dublin and Shannon to Heathrow; the challenges posed by any loss of connectivity through this critical hub, and by any loss of linkage to US destinations, caused by a potential sale of Aer Lingus,” said Mr O’Mahony.

The committee will meet again on Tuesday next week to hear the views of other groups on the issue of the potential sale of the Government’s stake.

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