CLARE TD Michael McNamara has written to Transport Minister Pascal Donohoe regarding possible threats to Shannon’s Heathrow slots.
In the letter, sent on December 19, he stated, “I note reports in today’s media quoting you as having said the Government remains “open to the sale” of its stake in Aer Lingus in the context of the takeover approach from British Airways’ owner, IAG.
“I would appreciate assurance that any sale by the Government would be contingent on maintaining Heathrow slots for Shannon flights and that this would be legally binding in the event of a sale. Maintaining connectivity from Shannon to London and beyond via Heathrow is key to the economic future of the Mid West an area that has not yet benefited as much as others from the recovery underway across our country.”
While Shannon has had a sometimes difficult relationship with Aer Lingus, there is no doubt that the airline’s Shannon-Heathrow route is very important to business in the Mid West.
Heathrow is one of the most important hub airports in Europe, offering onward connectivity to a huge amount of destinations around the world.
Slots at Heathrow are very valuable and Aer Lingus’ use of them to serve Shannon makes this part of Ireland much more easily accessible for business people in other parts of the world.
In 2007, Aer Lingus announced it would be transferring the Shannon slots to Belfast, something that was fiercely opposed by local interests. Ultimately Aer Lingus subsequently opted to return three slots to Shannon, something that was warmly welcomed in Clare.