O’Leary demands Cowen correct ‘false Dáil claims’

RYANAIR has written to the Taoiseach demanding he correct “false claims” he made in the Dáil this week in relation to the dispute over job creation at Dublin Airport.

In one of two letters sent to the Government yesterday, the airline’s chief executive told Brian Cowen that the claims he made in the Dáil were damaging and defamatory towards his company.

“You claimed that Aer Lingus had a 20-year lease over the Hangar 6 facility and this lease cannot be broken without breaking the law.

“This is untrue since the Tánaiste at our meeting later on Tuesday evening confirmed that there is a clause in this lease which allows the Dublin Airport Authority to require Aer Lingus to vacate this facility without breaking either the lease or the law.

“Since Aer Lingus has not created one new job in Hangar 6 and has no heavy maintenance work to put in the facility, why won’t you or your Government ask or direct the DAA to exercise this clause in order to save 300 jobs?”

Mr O’Leary also said the Taoiseach had claimed there was a 24-month notice period in the Aer Lingus lease on Hangar 6.

“This was subsequently contradicted by the Tánaiste at our meeting who confirmed that there was a 12-month notice period in the lease,” he wrote.

“You claimed that Ryanair did not make an offer for the Hangar 6 facility. This is manifestly untrue as we have already published the offer letters to the Tánaiste and the IDA from 2009 offering to create up to 500 engineering jobs in the facility.”

In a second letter Mr O’Leary wrote to Tánaiste Mary Coughlan: “I understand from today’s newspapers that you wrote to Ryanair yesterday,” he wrote. “In your haste to circulate this letter to the media, perhaps your office ‘forgot’ to post or fax the letter to Ryanair since we still have not received it. I’d appreciate a copy of this letter by fax this morning, that is of course unless your department is on strike again and not answering phones or sending faxes.”

Aer Lingus has responded by stating it needs the capacity of Hangar 6 for maintenance work, “particularly of its wide body A330 aircraft which cannot be accommodated in other hangars at Dublin airport”.

It has rejected previous claims by Ryanair that the hangar has been left empty and has confirmed that 230 people are employed by Aer Lingus in Hangar 6, some 96 of whom are former SRT employees transferred to the firm.

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