Wednesday 27 May 2015
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring TD, today (Wednesday) welcomed the government’s support for International Airlines Group (IAG)’s offer for Aer Lingus. The Government decision was taken following detailed and careful consideration of all of the issues involved in a potential disposal of the State’s 25.1% minority shareholding in Aer Lingus and the extensive discussions that have taken place with IAG on the matters.
Speaking today Minister Ring said: ‘This is a great deal for Aer Lingus, for passengers, for our airports, including Ireland West Knock Airport, and for Ireland. Minister Donohoe and others have spoken about the benefits of this deal for Dublin, Shannon and Cork, but it also brings benefits to Ireland West Airport Knock. I am very happy to see specific provisions around Knock airport, both from a transport policy point of view and a tourism policy view. IAG has indicated that its plan for Aer Lingus is to sustain and grow its business at Knock airport and that, specifically, the Aer Lingus service to Gatwick will be maintained and made more sustainable when connected to over 60 IAG destinations served from Gatwick.”
The Gatwick service is Aer Lingus’ only service at Knock at present. However, IAG has also indicated that Aer Lingus will actively work with Knock airport to explore new growth opportunities that will be available as part of the IAG Group. This morning the latest tourism figures were published, which showed a 13.5% increase in visitor numbers for the last three months compared to the same period last year.
Comparing the three-month period February 2015 – April 2015 with the period February 2014 – April 2014:
- Overall trips to Ireland were up by 13.5% to 1,778,600 visits
- North America was up by 20.2%;
- Visits from Mainland Europe were up by 14.7%;
- Visits from the rest of the world increased by 23.6%;
- Great Britain registered an increase of 9.8% in visits.
“I believe this new departure for Aer Lingus, which has been welcomed by the business community and welcomed by our airports, and which brings with it increased connectivity, will only help grow those numbers further. As I have said on many occasions this Government has brought tourism right back on the agenda in relation to our recovery. The decisions this Government have made continue to improve the economy, add to the creation of more jobs, and improve our growth prospects for the future. I believe we have again struck the right deal on this occasion. Compare this deal, with the guarantees in respect of incorporation and connectivity and the number of jobs to be created, to the record of Fianna Fáil when it privatised Aer Lingus ten years ago and it is clear to see that this Government has secured an infinitely better deal. We now have stronger commitments around slot disposal and guarantees around slot usage and the Aer Lingus brand that we didn’t have before. Minister Paschal Donohoe fought hard for this country and struck a deal that goes much further than Fianna Fáil ever did. He has secured the future of the airline in what is an increasingly competitive global airline marketing so.”