Dáil debates

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions

Semi-State Bodies Issues

9:50 am

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

My Department and I are in regular contact with Aer Lingus from both a shareholder and aviation policy perspective. The airline continues to compete well as an independent airline and is due to start a number of important new direct services in 2014, including to San Francisco and Toronto.

In 2012 the Government included its shareholding in Aer Lingus among the possible assets to be sold under the State asset-disposal programme, but agreed that the stake would only be sold when market conditions were favourable and if acceptable terms and an acceptable price could be secured. However, circumstances favourable to a sale did not arise during the period of the EU-IMF support programme. The Government remains willing to sell its stake, but I consider it unlikely that a buyer willing to offer the right price and accept appropriate conditions will emerge in the near term. The ongoing pension deficit issue and legal challenges to the EU and UK regulatory authority decisions on Ryanair's stake create uncertainties for any potential buyer.

The Government will continue to manage its shareholding actively, with the aim of maximising the value of the shareholding, securing dividends and encouraging new routes and additional capacity where commercially viable. The shareholding gives the Government an important say in any proposal to dispose of Aer Lingus's valuable slot portfolio at Heathrow Airport and gives the Government the right to nominate up to three directors on the board.


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