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'Why does everyone think Aer Lingus is a basket case that we've got to sell?'

Timmy Dooley says “slick PR” has created an inevitability about the Aer Lingus sale.

Updated 1.55pm 

FIANNA FÁIL TRANSPORT spokesperson Timmy Dooley has said that “slick PR” has created the false impression that it is necessary to sell Aer Lingus in order to ensure its future viability.

Dooley, who is steadfastly opposed to the government selling its 25 per cent stake in the airline, told TheJournal.ie that Aer Lingus remains a profitable and well-funded company.

He said there had been “careful manipulation of the media and public opinion” to create a narrative that it must be sold to IAG.

The fundamentals are still the same. We’re an island nation. I think we do need a stake in an airline to protect connectivity, to protect the foreign investment that we have and protect our tourism sector.

Source: Video: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

The government’s official position is that it rejected IAG’s initial offering last month and threw the ball back into IAG chief Willie Walsh’s court.

There have been reports that the cabinet will approve a revised sale deal after the Easter break, but nothing is yet confirmed.

This morning at the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Virgin Atlantic, which had previously expressed concerns about the sake, said it was is “agnostic” in relation to IAG’s proposed takeover.

Joe Thompson, Virgin Atlantic’s director of network and alliances, told TDs and senator said that its sole interest was to ensure consumer interests were maintained.

He confirmed his airline would not be involved in any takeover bid, but said Virgin has concerns that the deal could be bad for customers.

It wants the European Commission to ensure that agreements allowing Aer Lingus passengers to connect to long haul flights out of the UK are maintained in any merger with IAG.

IAG chief Willie Walsh wants to get his hands on Aer Lingus IAG chief Willie Walsh wants to get his hands on Aer Lingus Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Last week, the US billionaire Donald Trump has warned the Taoiseach that selling the State’s share in Aer Lingus would damage the country’s tourism industry and links to foreign direct investment.

The businessman, who plans to invest millions into his hotel and golf resort in Doonbeg, warns that the government should not give the airline “away to the highest bidder”.

As a TD for Clare, Dooley has a keen interest in what Trump has to say about the proposed sale:

Source: Video: Nicky Ryan/TheJournal.ie

Virgin: ‘Selling Aer Lingus will be bad news for customers’

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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