The need for laws to protect the Irish landing slots at Heathrow Airport is more urgent than ever following the latest expression of interest in Aer Lingus shares, according to Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Niall Collins.
Deputy Collins again raised the issue during Order of Business in the Dáil today (Tuesday, 18 October 2011) after Etihad Airlines expressed an interest in purchasing the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus. The Limerick TD asked the Government today if they have any plans to bring forward legislation to guarantee that the 23 Aer Lingus landing slots at Heathrow Airport will be protected, if the Government sells off its shares in the airline.
“These landing slots allow Aer Lingus to operate flights to London from Shannon, Cork and Dublin. The routes are a doorway to thousands of destinations worldwide as Heathrow is a leading global hub for travel. It is a matter of national interest that we maintain these crucial links,” said Deputy Collins.
“If the Government gives up its shares in Aer Lingus, the State loses its control over what is a strategic asset. If the company is handed over entirely to profit-driven private shareholders, the only way we can protect these landing slots is to introduce laws immediately to secure the links between Heathrow, Shannon, Cork and Dublin. I am again calling on the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to bring forward the necessary legislation without delay to protect these strategic assets.”