Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland this morning, IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton outlined three points he wished to communicate to the Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar, in relation to the news of Ryanair’s offer to buy Aer Lingus.
EU Competition – Matt pointed out that the competition issues remain unchanged. Less than a month ago the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said it would make a formal investigation of the existing 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus currently owned by Ryanair.
Consumer protection – The acquisition of Aer Lingus by its nearest rival would be bad for Irish consumers, blocking efficient competition, and would lead to inevitable price hikes and route closures.
Strategic concerns – It is vital to the Irish economy that all gateways into Ireland are held open, that inward investment creates jobs vital to building our economy. Ryanair has a record of closing routes/bases, often as a result of disagreements with a local airport or regulator. The strategic slots at Heathrow are currently used exclusively for the island of Ireland. Ryanair has 51 bases across 18 countries. At a minimum, it is possible that the Heathrow slots would be used by them to grow their business in other jurisdictions, and could go so far as to asset strip them and sell them off. These vital slots have been proved crucial to inward investor considerations. The connectivity provided by these slots is vital to Ireland’s economy.
IMPACT represents 1600 pilots and cabin crew members working at Aer Lingus.