Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Timmy Dooley TD has said any decision to sell the 25% strategic shareholding in Aer Lingus would be extremely short-sighted.

Deputy Dooley said: “I note with some concern that Minister Varadkar has decided that suddenly there is no strategic case for the State to continue to hold a 25% shareholding in Aer Lingus.  The previous Government, at the time Aer Lingus was privatised, decided that maintaining a strong shareholding in the company would help protect the country from adverse decisions that could be taken.  There was also considerable concern at the time surrounding competition between Ryanair and Aer Lingus.  I do not believe that Ryanair has given up on its attempts to acquire Aer Lingus, something which the Government would have no power to guard against if its shareholding is sold.

“I believe there will be considerable concern among the tourism industry, the business sector and among workers at Aer Lingus following the Minister’s comments.

“As a result of Aer Lingus being majority privately owned it has become a much more attractive and competitive airline.  Workers have made significant sacrifices and many have left the airline in order for it to reshape how it operates and reduce its cost base dramatically.

“However it appears to me as though the Minister is looking for reasons to sell the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus instead of looking at the importance of Aer Lingus to the country’s economic recovery through vital routes and connections to major cities.

“Any decision by this Government to abandon its shareholding in Aer Lingus to avoid making tough decisions on spending would be extremely short-sighted.  It could also adversely affect the country in the years ahead.”