Aer Lingus must clarify future of their Shannon Operations including their Maintenance Base – BREEN

February 26th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has expressed his concern today regarding the future of the Aer Lingus maintenance base at Shannon Airport.

Deputy Breen’s comments follow statements made last week by Colm Barrington, Chairman of Aer Lingus in the midst of the debacle over Hangar 6 that it is the only hangar in Dublin which can accommodate six or eight A320 which they use for their transatlantic services.

“Last month, Christoph Mueller, CEO left us in no doubt but that their strategic plan is to develop a transatlantic hub at Dublin Airport and divert all traffic from the Regions into Dublin to feed this Hub. My fear now is that the Airline’s strategic plan is to centralise their entire operation to Dublin including their maintenance base.”

“The requirement for their A330 wide bodied aircraft to overnight at Shannon is no longer necessary following changes to their transatlantic schedule and the reality is that their transatlantic aircraft just touch down and take off from Shannon. Any plans to centralise the Aer Lingus maintenance to Dublin Airport could have serious implications for the 70 staff who are currently employed at their Shannon facility.”

“Aer Lingus have kept us dangling long enough as to their plans for their Shannon operation and they have been very slow to commit to developing any additional long haul or short haul routes our of Shannon, indeed, comments made from various Airline spokesperson’s over the past number of weeks signal that Aer Lingus has no interest in developing services out of Shannon.

I am now calling on Christoph Mueller and the Board of Aer Lingus to make an immediate statement and outline their plans for their entire Shannon Operation including their future plans for their maintenance base.”

“Last week, Shannon Development put forward a proposal to provide Ryanair with a location in Shannon as an alternative to Dublin for aircraft maintenance and while Michael O’Leary has thrown this latest proposal into his waste paper basket, there is uproar, and quite rightly so, at the prospect that 300 aircraft maintenance jobs could be lost to this country, it would be a bigger blow, if 70 Aer Lingus maintenance jobs were lost from this Region to Dublin. Shannon Airport is facing a bleak future and every effort must be made to retain the business we have at the Airport; if we are to have any hope of sustaining the Airport in these turbulent times.”