THE boss of IAG, which is looking to buy Aer Lingus, has pledged to retain slots controlled by the carrier at London’s Heathrow Airport.
Amid fears a successful takeover by the firm could pave the way for the moving of the prized Shannon to Heathrow route, Willie Walsh has offered a series of commitments to the government, which owns 25% of Aer Lingus.
IAG - which is seeking to add Aer Lingus to a stable already containing British Airways and Iberia - has pledged to ensure the 23 slots controlled by Aer Lingus at Heathrow would only be used for Irish routes over the next five years.
On top of this, the submission to a review group just set up by the Department of Transport also pledges the Heathrow slots will not be allowed to be sold, including to other IAG companies.
The aviation giant is seeking to buy Aer Lingus for €1.4bn, but concerns have been expressed from many quarters over the loss of connectivity to Shannon.
At present, Limerick’s local airport is connected up to three times a day to London Heathrow.
But Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said concerns at the loss of Heathrow slots are “irrelevant” - as more people fly to London Stansted and London Gatwick Airports from Shannon, two bases served from Clare by his own budget airline.