Cabinet Discusses Aer Lingus Issue

Aer Lingus' controversial decision to close its Shannon-Heathrow route has reportedly been discussed by the Cabinet at its first meeting since the Dail resumed after the summer break.

Noel Dempsey, Minister for Transport, said that the government would do all it could to ensure that another airline was found to operate the Shannon-Heathrow route, but stressed that it was important not to over-emphasise the impact on Shannon airport and the region as a whole because of Aer Lingus' decision.

Around 30 people, including council and business representatives from Shannon, also protested outside government buildings while the meeting took place.

On Tuesday, the board of Aer Lingus met to consider a request for an extraordinary general meeting of shareholder to discuss the decision to close the Shannon-Heathrow route.

The request had been put forward by Ryanair, which is now the largest shareholder in Aer Lingus. Ryanair had proposed that the Shannon operation could be retained and the new routes from Aer Lingus' new hub in Belfast facilitated, if the airline scaled back existing services to London's Gatwick airport.

It is understood that the board did not make a decision on the request and no statement was issued after the meeting.

Talks between pilots' union IALPA and Impact, which is representing cabin staff, and Aer Lingus are due to continue at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin on Thursday.

A planned strike, over allegations that staff hired to work in Belfast would be paid less than those in the Republic of Ireland, was called off last week after talks were confirmed.


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