Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins has called on the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to introduce legislation to protect the Irish landing slots at Heathrow Airport.
Deputy Collins raised the matter during Order of Business in the Dáil last week (Thursday, 06 October 2011), expressing concerns about the future of Shannon, Cork and Dublin Airport’s slots at Heathrow in the context of the Government’s privatisation agenda.
Deputy Collins said: “Aer Lingus currently has 23 landing slots at Heathrow Airport, which allow it to operate flights to London from Shannon, Cork and Dublin. Heathrow is one of the busiest international airports in the World. It is crucial that we maintain the link between Heathrow and Dublin, Cork and the Shannon region.
“These landing slots are a strategic asset at the heart of regional development and economic recovery in this country. If the Government disposes of their stake in Aer Lingus they are relinquishing all control over this strategic asset. The Minister for Transport must make moves now to guarantee that these slots now, so they are not put in jeopardy in the event of privatisation.
“There are strong indications that the Government plans to sell off the State’s share of Aer Lingus under their New Era plan. I am calling on Minister Varadkar to introduce legislation now to ring fence the landing slots at Cork, Shannon and Dublin before control is handed over to a purely profit-driven private owner. ”