Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Aer Lingus sale hoodwinks public

7 September, 2006

Speaking this morning Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Transport Seán Crowe TD once again reiterated his opposition at the privatisation of Ireland's national airline.

Deputy Crowe said, "The insistence by Minister Cullen to go ahead with this totally unacceptable and unpopular privatisation at the end of this month shows that the arrogance of this government knows no bounds.

"The current airline trading climate combined with security disruptions at airports may very well lead to Aer Lingus, the people's airline, being sold for a pittance as share prices will plummet and speculators will swoop to grab our national airline on the cheap.

"This government was complicit in the stock market flotation of Eircom in 1999 which resulted in several hundred thousand of people losing thousands. With a minimum entry point of €10,000 required to purchase shares in the expected Aer Lingus initial public offering, not only are those on low income being hoodwinked into losing their airline through the privatisation which they have had no say in, they will now also be denied the chance to invest in it.

"While the company's and state's advisors will earn an estimated €10 million between them, the Irish people will lose their airline.

Deputy Crowe also urged the government to backtrack on its privatisation plans, citing Air Berlin's privatisation fiasco and further pointed out the successes of Aer Lingus as the concrete reason for the airline to remain in public hands and under democratic control.

He stated that "Aer Berlin is the closest example to the Irish carrier. However the recent sale of Germany's and Europe's third largest low-cost airline proved disastrous. More importantly, Aer Lingus is profitable and has a record in recent years of making money for the Irish people. Despite being in a volatile market, its European passengers rose by 19 per cent last year. According to analysts (Merrion), Aer Lingus will achieve an operating profit of more than €82 million this year. Indeed it is one of the most profitable airlines in the business. And the Government's response to this is to sell it for the cost of a couple of planes. This privatisation will bring nothing but turbulence for the passengers and workers of Aer Lingus." Críoch

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