Government must use stake in Aer Lingus to protect jobs in Shannon, says Limerick TD

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

LOCAL Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins has urged the government to use its 25% stake in Aer Lingus to stop the airline shifting 75 jobs to Dublin.

LOCAL Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins has urged the government to use its 25% stake in Aer Lingus to stop the airline shifting 75 jobs to Dublin.

Despite the move to make Shannon independent from the DAA, the flag carrier could deal the airport a blow by moving its maintenance operation to Dublin.

The move has been discussed at Aer Lingus board level, and it is feared that 70 jobs could go if the transfer goes ahead.

This week, Mr Collins joined Fianna Fail’s Clare TD Timmy Dooley in meeting the company CEO Christophe Mueller in Dublin.

The pair impressed upon him the need to keep the maintenance operation in Shannon - especially given the changes due shortly.

But Mr Collins said: “If I am to read the mood music, I think they are going to go ahead with this. This is my impression, so I think there is a sense of urgency here. We need to see the government step in and take control of the situation.”

For his part, Mr Collins reported that Mr Mueller had expressed frustration that the reforms planned for Shannon were not moving fast enough.

But Mr Collins added: “The government needs to engage with Aer Lingus, use the 25% shareholding which it still has.”

Aer Lingus staff are making a submission to Mr Mueller which will be considered at board level.

Mr Collins said with the changes announced two weeks ago by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, the government needs to play an active role in keeping the maintenance operation here.

“On foot of the announcement of the seperation of Shannon, and the creation of the new aviation hub there, there is a role here for the government to step in and engage with Aer Lingus and ensure the jobs do not transfer out of the region. At the moment, all we are seeing is an arms length reaction. Where is our balanced regional development policy,” Mr Collins asked.

On the government’s side, Kieran O’Donnell called on management in Aer Lingus to engage in full talks with the staff before making a decision on the future of the maintenance operation.

“I met the workers on Saturday and am well aware of their concerns. These people have given good service to Aer Lingus and they are now fearful of what the future holds for the Aer Lingus facility and the jobs involved,” he said. The Fine Gael TD has discussed the issue with Mr Varadkar and is planning to raise the issue in the Dail.