Aer Lingus unions dismiss IAG bid support

Trade unions at Aer Lingus have distanced themselves from claims from a person within their ranks that workers are now in favour of a takeover by IAG.

Aer Lingus unions dismiss IAG bid support

A member of the airlines’s Central Representative Council — an Irish Congress of Trade Union grouping of the airline’s trade unions — claimed yesterday that employees are excited by the growth opportunities a successful takeover by Willie Walsh’s International Airlines Group (IAG) would provide.

CRC secretary Myles Worth said that the takeover by IAG would help secure Aer Lingus’s future and protect it from future downturns, a significant shift from its previously stated position.

He said the potential of 500 positions being created as part of IAG’s vision to transform the former national carrier into a major player on long-haul routes and to develop Dublin as a transatlantic hub far outweigh the number of jobs that would be lost in areas such IT and procurement.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1, he said that while the company is currently performing well, the danger is that it could go into a downward spiral which would cast doubt over its future performance and lead to a “very aggressive cost-cutting plan” being implemented by management.

However, it emerged last night that Impact trade union, which represents cabin crew at the airline, had written to incoming Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh to say that the comments from Mr Worth were not reflective of its position and that any claim that the majority of staff in the company were in favour of the proposed IAG takeover “were not authorised by us and are in fact far from the case”.

It said it still believed the takeover was bad for Aer Lingus staff and threatened their jobs and added that the connectivity assurances stated publicly by IAG were “bad for Ireland”.

Furthermore, CRC chairman Evan Cullen claimed Mr Worth had no mandate to represent the position he did in the radio interview.

Former Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte gave his backing to the bid yesterday in the most high-profile show of support from a Government TD to date.

On the basis of the information available to him, IAG acquiring control of Aer Lingus was the best available opportunity for the airline, he said.

“Do we take our chances with a small standalone airline in a world of continuing consolidation or do we take up Willie Walsh’s offer to grow the business, increase routes, develop Dublin as a hub and increase traffic which will bring additional traffic to Ireland and grow employment?” Mr Rabbitte said.

In light of the alternative which could expose the airline to a “downward spin” if market conditions change, the €2.55 per share offer which would net the government €350m represented a “fairly powerful incentive”, he added.

Further outlining his position, he said he would be concerned for future of Aer Lingus — in which the Government holds a 25.1% share — if the bid is passed up, with no better offer on the horizon.

However, a Labour spokesperson was later quoted by RTE as saying the party is waiting for the report of an inter-departmental group examining the implications of the sale but, that as of now, a sufficient case has not been made out.

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