Michael Noonan lists positives of pending sale of Aer Lingus

The sale of Aer Lingus to aviation group IAG will establish certainty around connectivity in Ireland, help job creation, give people more access to flights and help fill hotel rooms, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said.

During a lengthy Dáil debate on the Government’s decision to sell its 25% share to IAG, it was also outlined how the €335m proceeds from the sale can be used for projects linked to ports, airports and broadband.

Mr Noonan said that if IAG took over Aer Lingus it would give investors long-term “certainty” across the island and “help job creation”.

Tourism agencies were backing the proposed Aer Lingus sale to IAG, he said, and it would benefit related sectors, result in more meals being served in restaurants and more seats on planes and rooms in hotels being filled.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin outlined how proceeds would go not just on connectivity for ports, airports, or broadband — but could also be spent on access to these areas. Projects could be domestic or international, he said. This could include road and related transport projects, it was confirmed.

Companies will be able to apply for funding for projects once the funds are transferred over to the Strategic Investment Fund, rather than paying for Ireland’s debt.

Mr Howlin’s officials said the funds could be used for light rail projects, such as the one proposed to link Dublin and the city’s airport.

Tánaiste Joan Burton said it was a “very positive deal”. The proceeds would be made available to both public and private companies, she said.

“That fund will be available for companies, public or private, to borrow from in respect of projects such as projects with investments into ports, airports, and broadband under the heading of connectivity.”

She said there would be hundreds of new jobs for pilots, cabin crew, and engineers in the airline and that registered employment agreements, relied on by Aer Lingus workers, would soon be enshrined in law.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny claimed the deal would be good for passengers and the economy.

A group of Labour TDs who had strong concerns about the deal have now come on board. Coalition TDs are expected to support the bid in a Dáil vote today.

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