Opposition to airline sale grows as State called on to block deal

Opposition to IAG’s potential takeover of Aer Lingus is growing, with a host of business, political, and academic commentators calling on the Government to use its stake in the carrier to block the advances.

Serious concerns were expressed that any deal with IAG could compromise the future economic viability of many of the country’s regional hubs, including Cork and the Midwest.

Shannon Chamber chief executive Helen Downes urged the Government to back away from what she described as a “high-risk decision”, urging ministers to block the takeover.

At the very least, Ms Downes said, any guarantees secured on the Government’s behalf must be “cast in iron” so that they are not reneged on at a later date.

Limerick Chamber of Commerce warned the Government any short-term gain from the sale of Aer Lingus has the potential to do much more long-term detrimental damage to the country’s economic well-being.

“The frequency of hub connectivity and direct access to North America is a unique selling point which has successfully attracted inward investment to Ireland,” said Dr Órlaith Borthwick, the interim chief executive of Limerick Chamber.

“Any potential reduction in this connectivity will have a detrimental impact, not only on foreign-owned firms who operate here but on our indigenous firms as they seek to expand and internationalise into new markets.”

Cork Chamber president Gillian Keating urged the Government to oppose the sale of Aer Lingus in light of concerns regarding the absence of guarantees around safeguarding of the Cork-Heathrow slots and IAG’s longer-term plans for the airline.

Cork Institute of Technology industry liaison manager Josette O’Mullane warned that connectivity with Heathrow is vital for Cork’s economic development. “Accessibility for international researchers and students studying in Cork is an important factor in choosing where to locate,” she said, adding that start-ups rely on Heathrow for exports and visiting international customers.


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