Cork South Central Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath has said the promise by IAG that it would operate the 23 Heathrow slots on Irish routes for five years is completely inadequate and further underlines the need for the government to reject the takeover bid.
Deputy McGrath stated, “The fact that IAG is only willing to commit to retaining the Heathrow slots on Irish routes for five years is deeply worrying. We can safely assume that after the five years has elapsed, IAG or whoever might buy IAG, will probably transfer the Heathrow slots to other more profitable routes in their global network. In addition, retaining the slots for five years on Irish routes is not the same as guaranteeing to the people of Cork that our Heathrow connection will be unaffected as the company could transfer some of our slots to the Dublin – Heathrow route and still claim to have kept their pledge.
“The intervention of IAG CEO Willie Walsh has only served to strengthen my view that the takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG poses a grave threat to the local economy in Cork. I honestly believe that the Cork-Heathrow slots will not survive for too long if IAG succeeds in its takeover bid. The government must hold firm and reject the IAG bid. From a Cork perspective, there is simply too much put at risk if Aer Lingus is taken over by IAG. I have no doubt the loss of the Heathrow connection would cost us investment and ultimately jobs here in Cork.
“The thirteen Government Ministers and TDs in Cork City and County can stop this proposed takeover in its tracks if they make it clear to the Taoiseach and Tanáiste that they will not support the sale of the government’s 25% stake in Aer Lingus in a Dail vote. If this is what it takes to protect Cork’s connection to globe via Heathrow, then this is what must be done.”