The Aer Lingus Affair – As It Happens

Thursday, May 28 – 5.20pm
The Dáil have voted by 74 votes to 51 to approve the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG. Clare Labour Party TD, Michael McNamara, voted against the government and has been expelled from the Labour party.
The East Clare farmers and barrister has raised a number of concerns about the proposed sale in recent days and week and his decision to vote against the motion has been well flagged in both local and national media.
This is not the first time that Deputy McNamara has voted against the government. Earlier this year he voted in favour of his own bill on abortion – which was voted down by the government.

Michael-McNamara-03a

Thursday, May 28 – 12 noon
Clare TD, Michael McNamara, looks set to get the bullet from the Labour Party if he votes against the proposed sale of Aer Lingus in the Dail this afternoon.
The East Clare TD has said he is not willing to ‘gamble’ the country’s future connectivity by accepting the €335m bid.
Deputy McNamara welcomed the additional guarantees on jobs from Aer Lingus chief executive Stephen Kavanagh but said there are ‘a lot of questions outstanding’. He also apologised to Transport Minister, Paschal Donohoe, but said he does not have ‘confidence’ in the deal agreed by the Government and will not vote in favour in the Dail.
The vote is scheduled to take place 4.40pm today.

Thursday, May 28 – 9.30am
An internal report commissioned by Aer Lingus has suggested that nearly €60 million in additional cost savings could be generated at the company.
The airline has strongly denied that this report – which was given to its management a month – ago by outside consultants represents a secret blueprint for job cuts. This development has cast fresh doubt over the level of support that the government can expect from back benchers – especially in the Labour Party.

Wednesday, May 27 – 7.10pm
As the dust settles on a monumental day for Shannon Airport and Aer Lingus – each of Clare’s four TD’s have laid their cards on the table… well, sort of.
Both FG members, Pat Breen and Joe Carey, have voiced their full support of the sale, Timmy Dooley (FF) has come out against it and Michael McNamara has said that he will need some convincing before he will support the government and the Labour party on this issue. Here is a selection of what they had to say:
Timmy Dooley (FF): “For the life of me I can’t understand how your Government has failed to see the importance of retaining that shareholding, to have that input.”
Pat Breen (FG): “There will be opportunities for further growth on the transatlantic also for Shannon Airport [after the sale] particularly given that it has Pre Clearance Facilities.”
Michael McNamara (LAB): “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.”
Joe Carey (FG): “This is great news for both tourism and business interests in County Clare. We are so dependent on Shannon for tourism access to all that Clare has to offer to visitors from abroad and also as a vital gateway for business and industry.

The gang of four: Clare TD's Joe Carey (FG), Pat Breen (FG), Timmy Dooley (FF) and Michael McNamara (LAB).
The gang of four: Clare TD’s Joe Carey (FG), Pat Breen (FG), Timmy Dooley (FF) and Michael McNamara (LAB).

Wednesday, May 27 – 5pm
Sinn Féin’s transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis said challenged the government to hold a referendum to seek public approval before any sale of its stake in Aer Lingus.
“Aer Lingus has survived many things, but this is a nail in the coffin,” he said.
“You, (Minister Donohoe) should be defending the State’s assets. You shouldn’t be selling them off. No Government should have the right to sell off the State’s assets. That is up to the people. It should be put to the people for them to make that decision.”

Wednesday, May 27 – 4.10pm
Clare TD, Pat Breen (FG) has come out in favour of the sale of Aer Lingus to IAG.
“IAG has indicated that Aer Lingus’ services to Boston and New York are expected to be strengthened and options to enhance the existing all-business British Airways twice-daily service (from Heathrow to JFK via Shannon) will be considered. In the context of sustaining and growing services at Shannon, IAG has stated that growth opportunities with tourism and business interests in our Mid-West region will be pursued together with IAG’s US partner, American Airlines,” he sad.
“There will be opportunities for further growth on the transatlantic also for Shannon Airport particularly given that it has Pre Clearance Facilities. Capacity could be an issue in Dublin both in terms of the airport and hotels and I have confidence in the Airport Authority who will be out there actively competing for this business.”

Wednesday, May 27 – 2.10pm
Clare Fine Gael, Joe Carey, has some out squarely behind the sale of Aer Lingus. On a statement just released he describes it as “good news for tourism, business and the attractiveness of County Clare and the Mid-West region”.
“This deal removes all of the uncertainty around the future of Aer Lingus and is in essence all about connectivity, jobs and growth. The sale of the Government’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus secures the future of the airline and really is the best way forward when you consider what has happened to other such small independent airlines around the world,” he said.
“The significant concessions secured during the course of detailed negotiations will really benefit Shannon and the Mid-West region. I am very pleased that IAG has stated its willingness to offer commitments in relation to Aer Lingus’ Heathrow slots, in terms of their guaranteed use for the next seven years and also in terms of the slots ownership, over which the Minister for Finance will hold an indefinite veto in any potential sale attempt.
“This is great news for both tourism and business interests in County Clare. We are so dependent on Shannon for tourism access to all that Clare has to offer to visitors from abroad and also as a vital gateway for business and industry.

Wednesday, May 27 – 11.30am

Paschal Donohue at Shannon Airport, flanked by Rose Hynes and Neil Pakey
Paschal Donohue at Shannon Airport, flanked by Rose Hynes and Neil Pakey

The Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe (FG), opens two days of Dáil debate on the proposed sale of Aer Ligus.In his opening remarks he outlines the benefits to Shannon, as he sees it.
“In Shannon, in the context of sustaining and growing its business, IAG will consider options, including Aer Lingus codeshare and accepting customers originating from Shannon that could enhance the existing all-business British Airways two daily service from Heathrow to JFK via Shannon,” he said.
“The Aer Lingus Shannon flights to Boston and New York are expected to be strengthened as a result of the company becoming part of the North Atlantic Joint Business. Aer Lingus support for existing American Airlines flights to Philadelphia will provide opportunities for additional capacity and increased connectivity to the US.”

Wednesday, May 27 – 10.50am
The presidents of Ennis, Galway, Limerick and Shannon issue a joint statement on the proposed sale – welcoming some of the guarantees outlined by the government.
“The statement issued by the government with regard to the sale has dealt with connectivity in a very clear way,” the presidents said.
“We welcome the confirmation of the indefinite retention of the 23 Aer Lingus slot pairs connecting Ireland to London Heathrow. While the guarantee is for a seven-year period, which may seem a relatively short period in aviation terms, it is now up to all stakeholders, including the Chambers, to manage the risks of what happens afterwards by highlighting, building on, and developing the opportunities for further Aer Lingus and IAG services from Shannon.
“The Shannon Heathrow services have high load factors and, with capacity on the route set to increase, the opportunities to enhance this further are evident given the strong business and tourism base in the Shannon catchment area.”

Wednesday, May 27 – 10am
Clare TD and Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley has come out against the proposed sale of Aer Lingus saying it would be “anti-competitive and bad for consumers”.
“For the life of me I can’t understand how your Government has failed to see the importance of retaining that shareholding, to have that input,” he said.
He said there was nothing in any documents they had seen that “now is the time to castaway the strategic interest in a hugely important asset”.

Wednesday, May 27 – 9.10am
The Irish Aviation Authority has issued a statement welcoming the proposed sale. In a statement Eamonn Brennan, IAA Chief Executive said, “We believe that the proposal as approved by the Government offers significant benefits to Irish aviation, including guaranteed access to London Heathrow from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports for a sustained period of time.”

Wednesday, May 27 – 8.45am

Rose Hynes gives the thumbs up to Aer Lingus sale
Rose Hynes gives the thumbs up to Aer Lingus sale

The chairperson of the Shannon Group, Rose Hynes, welcomes the proposed IAG takeover of Aer Lingus – saying it will be good for Shannon Airport.
“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.
“An IAG takeover of Aer Lingus opens a new era, not just for Aer Lingus but also for Shannon Airport and the region. Aer Lingus already operates successful US, UK and European routes from Shannon, and indeed only last week the airline announced a 20per cent increase in seat capacity on the popular Shannon-Heathrow route, adding to a new Aer Lingus Regional flight to Birmingham commencing on the 18th of June. We are delighted that IAG has committed not only to sustain and strengthen Shannon’s existing Aer Lingus services after the takeover but also to pursue further growth opportunities from Shannon to North America.”

Wednesday, May 27 – 8.10am
RENUA leader, Lucinda Creighton, has just welcomed the sale of Aer Lingus but expressed concern at the “continuing relegation of the interests of Irish citizens to second place, behind the electoral needs of the Labour Party”.
“On balance I welcome the sale of Aer Lingus. It will secure the future of Ireland’s international infra-structure, create jobs and secure existing jobs. In a competitive global economy this is crucial,” she said.
“I am however deeply concerned that the role played by the Labour Party throughout this process will damage the value of the sale for the tax-payer.”

Tuesday, May 26 – 8pm
Clare TD Michael McNamara has hinted that he might vote against the sale – saying he will need “significant additional information” before he could support the cabinet’s decision.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“The airline was effectively privatised when Fianna Fáil sold off 75% of it, but I need to be assured of the benefits of selling the remaining 25% to this region, before I can support it.
“The future prosperity of the west and mid-west of Ireland is dependent on Shannon Airport retaining its connectivity to North America, London Heathrow and beyond, and I am not willing to gamble with that future.”

Could the Aer Lingus sale be the straw that breaks Clare TD Michael McNamara's links with the Labour Party?
Could the Aer Lingus sale be the straw that breaks Clare TD Michael McNamara’s links with the Labour Party?

Tuesday, May 26 – 7pm
After hours of meetings, the Minister for Transport, Paschal Donohoe (FG), releases the statement that we have been waiting for.
“IAG has provided additional information and certain commitments in relation to its proposal. Following detailed consideration of this and all of the issues surrounding a potential disposal of the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus, the Government has decided that it will support IAG’s proposal. I will give further details about the Government’s decision to support the IAG proposal at a press conference shortly,” he said.

Tuesday, May 26 – 6pm
The cabinet are meeting now in government building. All the look like they will be giving the green light to the deal later this evening.

Tuesday, May 26 – 12 noon
The morning cabinet meeting breaks up without a resolution on the sale of Aer Lingus. It is understood that the cabinet will come together for a second meeting later in the day. News looking likely later tonight.

Monday, May 25 – Evening
News begins to leak out to the media that the proposed sale of Aer Lingus will be discussed during the weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning.

Thursday, May 21 – 1pm
The announcement is made that Aer Lingus will increase capacity on its Shannon to Heathrow service by 20 per cent. The announcement is welcomed by Shannon Group CEO, Neil Pakey.
“We have been in communication with Aer Lingus for some time to restore the A320 on the service and are delighted that they have done this,” he said.

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