So IAG (International Airlines Group) is courting. It may have suffered a knock-back, but it is willing to try once more. The Government has some serious thinking to do.
Aer Lingus provides much-needed connectivity to London Heathrow from Belfast, Dublin, Cork and Shannon.
If IAG were to take over, assurances would be given that the slots would be maintained. However, IAG would only be obliged to fulfil these assurances for three years, as when they took over BMI British Midland.
They could possibly then deploy those slots on more lucrative routes, such as to the US, China or to the Middle East.
Where would this leave our island nation? What effect would this have on inward investment? What effect would this have on jobs, not to mention the job losses that would surely occur at Aer Lingus?
The Government shareholding could net the State some €348m, at €2.60 per share. This might cover an overspend in the Health Service Executive for one year, at best (though estimates put this at €510m).
Short-term gain could lead to some long-term pain. Caution is advised.