Clare’s Michael McNamara, who had the Labour whip withdrawn from him after voting against moves to sell the Government’s 25.1% stake in the airline to British Airways-led consortium IAG, is demanding clarity from ministers on the issue.
The move follows reports that the European Commission will only approve the €1.3bn takeover if IAG sheds some of its London slots to comply with competition rules.
The Government says the special share it obtained in Aer Lingus guarantees the Irish-Heathrow slots, but Mr McNamara say such devices have proved ineffectual in the past.
“Long-haul flights out of Heathrow are much more profitable than flights to Dublin, which in turn are much more profitable than flights to Shannon or Cork,” Mr McNamara told RTÉ.
He said that if IAG gives up some London slots, it could replace them with some of the ones Aer Lingus uses for Irish routes.
“The particular concern is that at the time of the Dàil vote we were told that the minister and his officials had already been in extensive negotiations with the European Commission, yet now for the first time when the deal is about to go through we are learning that there is a suggestion that slots will have to be disposed of,” said Mr McNamara.
“What we need to know now is was that mooted at the time, was it proposed by the Government in return for acceptance of the deal, did the Commission indicate that slots would have to be disposed of, and if slots are to be disposed of by IAG which part of IAG is it going to be?
“Is it going to be the British Airways side of it, which has a market capitalisation of €10.8bn and where long- haul flights from Heathrow are the core of its business, or is it going to be Aer Lingus, which is less than 10% of the new IAG group?”