Unions and business groups have clashed over the Government’s decision to sell the State’s 25% stake in Aer Lingus after the long-awaited move was finally announced by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe yesterday.
The Coalition last night confirmed that it had agreed to accept the offer from IAG after months of debate.
Business groups including Ibec and the Cork Chamber of Commerce welcomed the move, saying it was the best offer Ireland could receive and is in the public’s interest to accept.
Ibec said the takeover will improve access to the country while also acting as a “springboard for further growth on the key North Atlantic routes”.
Impact trade union said despite the positive spin, it still does not see how any assurances given by either Aer Lingus or IAG will guarantee the protection of jobs and the wider economy.
“This is bad for jobs, for Aer Lingus workers, and for Ireland’s connectivity and economic development,” a spokesperson for the union said.
“For the staff at Aer Lingus, there are genuine concerns of compulsory redundancies if the deal goes through, along with the prospect of a further erosion of terms and conditions in the inevitable restructuring of the company.
“Any assurances on the future use of the Heathrow slots will evaporate once the seven-year period has elapsed, after which these vital connection points can be moved to where they will make larger profits for the airline.”
Tourism Ireland said the IAG deal may help encourage more visitors to come from “Ireland’s most important tourism markets”, with assurances over regional connections to Cork and Shannon meaning all regions may benefit.
Business bodies and those in charge of airports in these regions gave further backing to the development in separate statements.
Kevin Toland, chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority, which operates services in Dublin and Cork, said the “transaction offers significant potential” as it will “enable additional long-haul connections”.
Rose Hynes, chairwoman of the Shannon Group, which operates Shannon Airport, said the decision will safeguard the region’s services.
Cork Business Association president Claire Nash, and Shannon Chamber of Commerce president Kevin Thompstone said protection of the Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow and assurances over connectivity issues are crucial to ongoing business support.
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