Fine Gael TD for Dublin Fingal, Alan Farrell has stated that, regardless of the short-term gain which any sale of the Government’s share in Aer Lingus may have, securing Aer Lingus’ long-term future in Ireland must be the prominent consideration in terms of examining any offer for our national carrier.
“As a small island nation, we must do all we can to safeguard our connectivity with our trading partners, currently the routes operated by Aer Lingus play an integral role in securing our access to these markets. Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance that we have secure air links in order to continue to attract foreign direct investment into our economy and to avoid risking the investment opportunities which are already present.”
“When examining any potential offer made for Aer Lingus, we must look at the long-term impact the sale of the airline would have. We must avoid accepting an offer which would provide a short-term gain but ultimately lead to a loss in the long-term. After all, should IAG, or any other potential buyer, change the operations of Aer Lingus in the future, Ireland would effectively be forced back to the one carrier model – a move which could be detrimental for both the economy and consumers.
“Aer Lingus was effectively sold in 2006 with the majority of the airline now being in private ownership. The question must be asked as to whether it would be a mistake for the Government to relinquish the little influence it has left?
“Aer Lingus is becoming increasingly competitive and is certainly holding its own in the aviation sector. I believe that the current value attributed to Aer Lingus shares shows that the airline is undervalued. Regardless of this, is it actually possible to put a price on the benefit which Aer Lingus, as our national carrier, provides to Ireland, our sense of national pride, and our economy?
“Aer Lingus is an important employer and, through its existing routes, provides the Irish economy with links that are vital in terms of attracting future investment into the country. It is my opinion that no offer for the Government’s share in the airline can be deemed acceptable unless we can, without any uncertainty, be guaranteed that Aer Lingus’ strong contribution to Ireland, both in terms of employment and connectivity will be protected in the long-term.”