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Aer Lingus sale is a disaster for the people of this island - Liadh Ní Riada MEP

28 May, 2015 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada has described the the government's sale of the state's remaining share in Aer Lingus as "a disaster for the people of the island of Ireland."

Speaking from Shannon today, Ní Riada said;

"It is mind-boggling that the government has decided to sell-off what little control the Irish people retained over what was once our national airline. 

"We are a small island nation and our economy depends on connectivity. It is extremely unnerving that access by air while now be completely in the hands of private interests. 

"There is a credible view that IAG set its sights on acquiring Aer Lingus in order to gain control of the airline's slots at Heathrow. These are slots which the company sees as vital for the further development of their markets in South America and Asia.

"I don't believe that IAG has the best and long-term interests of the Irish public at heart. You only have to look at IAG's strategic management of Iberia since it acquired the airline in 2011. Their approach has seen an increase in routes for British Airways while the number of routes operated by Iberia has fallen. There has also been a corresponding impact on the profits of both companies.

"The fate of workers at Iberia also makes for distressing reading. By the end of 2015, IAG will have cut almost 4,600 jobs at Iberia since they commenced what they refer to as a "restructuring programme" in 2012.

"There is a stink of managed decline about IAG's approach to Iberia. This makes me fearful for the future of Aer Lingus, especially if IAG uses the airline to simply bolster the profitability of its other business units. This could very easily develop into a case of asset-stripping.

"Given this context, I would be fearful for our airports in Cork and Shannon. Our regional airports need a national airline that is properly resourced and financially supported and which is guided by a management culture that emphasises the need to serve markets outside of Dublin.

"I am far from convinced that IAG will deliver on these necessities.Therefore, I believe that the government is acting in the most reckless fashion by moving forward with a sale that will amount to a disaster for the people of this island."

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