herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Airport chief backs takeover of Aer Lingus

padraig
padraig

The DAA has thrown its weight behind a takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG.

The chairman designate of the Dublin Airport Authority - Padraig O'Riordan - has argued that the British Airways owner could significantly grow transatlantic traffic out of Dublin.

Mr O'Riordan, who's been chairman of the DAA since 2012 is in the process of being reappointed to the role by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport, he said that while the DAA is "quite measured" on the question of an Aer Lingus takeover, IAG could be good for the airport.

He said IAG could contribute "quite significantly" in growing transatlantic traffic and developing Dublin as a hub for passengers criss-crossing the Atlantic.

"There are potential merits," he said.

Mr O'Riordan - a partner with law firm Arthur Cox - also said that the take-off and landing slots controlled by Aer Lingus at London's Heathrow airport are "sustainable on their own merits", suggesting there's not necessarily a reason why IAG would want to use them for other purposes.

"The traffic into these slots is very, very strong," he said.

"There may be some potential positives for Dublin Airport should the transaction proceed," he said.

Mr O'Riordan also said that Cork Airport would work to develop an expansion strategy capitalising on the IAG ownership of Aer Lingus, should a takeover go ahead.

Dublin Airport had a record number of transatlantic passengers last year, with the figure rising 14pc to over 2.1 million. Total passenger traffic at the airport was 8pc higher at 21.7 million.

The DAA and Aer Lingus Regional are currently engaged in a major marketing push to get even more passengers from the UK to fly to North America via Dublin. The DAA points out that US customs and immigration pre-clearance at the capital saves UK passengers hassle by avoiding queues when they reach the United States.

Executives from IAG - which is willing to pay €1.36bn for Aer Lingus - are due to meet Government advisers this afternoon.

During that meeting, IAG will deliver more details on its plans for developing Aer Lingus if it's successful in buying it.

LEVERAGE

It wants to grow cargo services and leverage its relationship with American Airlines to broaden the brand recognition of Aer Lingus in the US.

It's also planning to engage with trade and tourism bodies.

IAG's proposed takeover suffered a set-back on Monday amid speculation that the Government was getting ready to reject a bid for the Irish airline.

But the Department of Transport said planned meetings with IAG were due to take place as intended this week.

hnews@herald.ie

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