WITH the Government this evening announcing the sale of the State’s stake in Aer Lingus, a Fine Gael source this evening told the Clare Champion that Shannon-US services will be enhanced as a result of the transaction.
It is understood that British Airways (which is owned by IAG) will continue to use Shannon’s US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facilities, and in the future it may actually pick up passengers at Shannon, effectively extending the range of US services from Shannon, something that would be welcomed by local business interests.
While IAG CEO Willie Walsh had previously ruled out increasing a five year commitment to maintaining Shannon-Heathrow connectivity, this will be increased to seven years.
It is understood the assurances have calmed at least some political nerves in Clare, but the issue is still set to provoke local and national debate in the coming days.
The chairman of Shannon Group plc, Rose Hynes, has welcomed the proposed IAG takeover of Aer Lingus and the Government decision to sell its 25% share in Aer Lingus to IAG.
“This decision paves the way for IAG to take over Aer Lingus. It’s good news; it’s a positive opportunity for Ireland, will safeguard the Shannon Heathrow connectivity for seven years and it opens the door to further growth at Shannon,” she said.
“This year we celebrate 70 years of transatlantic flights through Shannon and this decision is the latest proof of Ireland’s strategic location as a transatlantic gateway for Europe,” she added.
Clare Labour TD Michael McNamara has stated that he will need significant additional information before he could support the Cabinet’s decision to recommend the sale of the Government’s 25% share in Aer Lingus to IAG.
“I supported a motion at the recent Labour Party conference calling on the Government to reject any further takeover bid that does not clearly articulate a plan which would promote Shannon and Cork airports, taking into account their distinct business models and impact on their individual regions.”
“I would need to see the detail of the agreement and be assured that it is in the best interest of Shannon Airport, balanced regional development and the thousands of people whose livelihood, both directly and indirectly, depend on the airport,” said Deputy McNamara.