Retention of slots for Irish airports must be pre-requisite in any IAG take-over of Aer Lingus – leading multi-national executive says

An Executive Director of Element Six, a long established multinational in the Mid-West, has said that the ability to attract further investment into the region will be undermined by any threat to Shannon-Heathrow slots.

Speaking ahead of today’s cabinet meeting, at which the proposed takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG is expected to be discussed, Element Six executive Ken Sullivan said that Government must make retention of slots for Shannon, as well as Cork and Dublin, a prerequisite for its agreement to any deal.

“This region is every bit as dependent now on Shannon-Heathrow services as it was back in 2007 when the Shannon slots were moved temporarily to Belfast. The business community here united in opposition to that move and this time around the threat is not just to Shannon but also Cork and Dublin,” said Mr Sullivan, who was Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Connectivity Alliance – the group of business and tourism representatives that came together to seek the restoration of Shannon Heathrow services in 2007.

“The Government, as a significant shareholder and in recognition of the threat this represents to the national interest, must reject any bid put to the board unless the contract of sale includes a clause that ensures existing services between the three Irish airports and Heathrow are protected.  This must be the very minimum the Government insists on.

“As a company Element Six is a regular user of the Shannon-Heathrow route.  Shannon is the only airport on the entire western seaboard with access to Heathrow, which gives one-stop connectivity to so many key international markets. Not having this access is simply not an option for us.  These services help underpin our presence in Shannon and any threat to them could be detrimental to this region’s ability to attract further foreign direct investment.

“One of the first things multi-nationals will look for when considering investing in a region is does it have good connectivity to key global markets?  Shannon currently has that but it will certainly not be good for this region or, indeed, Cork or Dublin if our airports were to lose Heathrow services.”