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The potential sale of Aer Lingus is 'high stakes, very serious and difficult'

Ministers remain tight-lipped about the proposed sale of the government’s 25 per cent stake in the airline.

Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated 4.20pm

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Charlie Flanagan has said that the potential sale of the government’s 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus is “a very serious and difficult decision” that will require careful consideration from the government.

Ministers are remaining tight-lipped about their own views on the potential sale of the airline to IAG as an interdepartmental group considers the proposed offer from the company headed by Irishman Willie Walsh.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin today, Flanagan said it was important that Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe be “given the opportunity to amass all the information”.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said that the issue is “clearly high stakes from the country’s point of view”.

“I think the calm approach that Paschal is taking in assessing the issues carefully reflects the right approach for the government to take on an issue that clearly is high stakes from the country’s point of view and on which there are legitimate points of view expressed,” he said.

“We need to make a decision based on the best possible information in the interests of the country and thats what Paschal and the government will do.”

Union opposition

Earlier, the IMPACT trade union, which represents 1,750 Aer Lingus staff, distanced itself from remarks that suggested that staff at the airline support a sale to IAG.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week show yesterday, secretary of the company’s Central Representative Council Myles Worth said that staff were broadly in favour of a sale of the airline.

However, Impact’s national secretary Matt Staunton disagrees and has written to incoming Aer Lingus CEO Stephen Kavanagh, distancing the union’s membership from the comments.

The letter reads:

Dear Mr. Kavanagh

I write on behalf of Impact with 1750 members in Aer Lingus-by far the biggest union in the airline-representing Pilots, Cabin Crew, and administrative managerial staff in the company.

We wish to distance ourselves from points made by the Secretary of the companies Central Representative Committee today on RTE Radio.

The points made, particularly those that purport to reflect that the majority of staff in the company and their trade unions were in favour of the proposed IAG takeover of Aer Lingus, were not authorised by us and are in fact far from the case.

IMPACT still asserts that this takeover is bad for Aer Lingus staff, threatens their jobs, and the connectivity assurances stated publically are bad for Ireland. We hope to discuss these with you next week.

Yours sincerely,

Matt Staunton

Other unions have not yet made a public declaration on their position, but it has been reported that the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association has distanced itself from Worth’s comments.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell

First published 9.06am

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