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Exporters fear Aer Lingus sale

EXPORTERS have pleaded with the Government to withdraw the sale of its Aer Lingus stake for fear of the consequences for the connection with the US.

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) said that potential buyers of the Government's 25pc stake in Aer Lingus may not provide the same reliable air cargo facility.

The airline services an export and import industry worth more than €22bn between Ireland and the US.

Aer Lingus flights to the US carry about 52pc of the value of Irish exports and 43pc of all imports from the US.

Exporters say that the €18bn of pharmaceutical and medical technology that is exported by airfreight to the US is most at risk.

John Whelan, chief executive of the IEA, said the organisation has advised Transport Minister Leo Varadkar that the daily airfreight connection is critical to Ireland's future growth.

He added: "If they [Ryanair] succeed in buying this stake, they are likely to drop air cargo handling."