Aer Lingus refutes O’Leary’s claims over Hangar 6

THE Dublin Airport Authority would have to give Aer Lingus 24 months notice and a brand new hangar before it could leave controversial Hangar 6, the airline’s chairman has claimed.

Colm Barrington made the comments as it emerged that, eight months before Aer Lingus signed a 20-year lease on Hangar 6, Ryanair wrote to the Government offering to save the jobs of 500 SR Technics (SRT) staff using the facility.

In the letter dated February 26, 2009, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said, in light of SRT’s announced intention to pull out of the country, his airline was willing immediately to step in and commit its foreseeable future base maintenance requirements to Dublin airport with the creation of up to 500 jobs. He also made it clear he would not deal with the owners of the hangar, the Dublin Airport Authority.

In response to the letter, Tánaiste Mary Coughlan said the Ryanair boss should speak with the IDA which was dealing with SR Technics, but she did not address what he was offering.

Aer Lingus, eight months later, signed the lease for Hangar 6.

Yesterday, speaking on RTÉ radio, Mr Barrington restated Aer Lingus’s need for the larger facility.

“Hangar 6 is a big shed. I don’t have any shed fetishes. Michael O’Leary seems to,” he said.

“We need this building to maintain our aircraft. We have as many as six or eight aircraft in there on any one night. If Michael O’Leary takes pictures of it during the day there might not be anything in it because the aircraft are in the air with passengers. During the night it is very busy. It is the only hangar in Dublin Airport which can take two A330 aircraft, the aircraft we use for transatlantic services.”

Mr Barrington said it was possible that Ryanair entered into discussions with DAA and the minister about having first option when the facility became vacant.

“But according to Ryanair themselves, they did not enter into any discussion with the DAA because, despite claiming to be its biggest customer, they don’t actually talk to the DAA.”

On the 20-year lease, he said he was one of the few people who has read the document and could talk authoritatively about it.

“If the DAA wants to move us out of that hangar because they have another purpose for developing the airport, such as building another hangar, building a hotel, building a new runway, they can give us not less than 24 months notice, provided they provide us with a similar sized facility. If the DAA wants to build us a new hangar on the airport, I would be very happy to go to a new hangar because it would be modern. Hangar 6 is a shed.”

Mr Barrington believes Ryanair has already done a deal “in Krakow, Bratislava or somewhere else” tolocate the 300 jobs which it is saying it would locate at Hangar 6.

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