Fianna Fáil Transport Spokesperson Timmy Dooley has described the Government’s decision in favour of selling the state’s remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus “when market conditions are favourable” as extremely worrying in the absence of a plan to protect the strategic important landing slot at Heathrow airport.

Deputy Dooley said: “The direct result of the decision is that Aer Lingus as a national carrier will no longer exist.  We reject the sale of the 25% “Golden Share” in Aer Lingus on the basis that the Government has not outlined how it will protect the Heathrow slots which we consider a strategic asset.

“Minister Varadkar is on the Dáil record as saying Aer Lingus cannot be considered a state asset.  I firmly disagree.  It is amazing that the important connectivity between this country, an island nation, and the rest of the world is no longer considered to be of strategic interest. We do not accept that the portion owned by the State is not of strategic importance. Neither do we accept that the slots at Heathrow are not of strategic benefit to this State.

“The future of Shannon, Cork and Dublin Airport’s slots at Heathrow are a source of concern. Aer Lingus currently has 23 landing slots at Heathrow, which allow it to operate flights to London from Shannon, Cork and Dublin. These landing slots are a strategic asset at the heart of regional development and economic recovery in this country.

“Fianna Fáil will be opposed to the sale of the remaining state share in Aer Lingus unless the Government moves to guarantee the Heathrow landing slots in advance of full privatisation.”