Along with the resignation of 2 Government ministers the big story of the past 3 weeks has been the issue’s surrounding Hangar 6 and the promise of 300 jobs by Ryanair. On Wednesday 24th February I sat down and watched the joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport with great interest, two hours later I was very clear on Ryanair position, but less so of Aer Lingus, DAA and found out nothing about the Government position.
On Tuesday night Prime Time offered to give us the facts behind Hangar 6, again we got a repeat of Michael O Leary’s position. Prime Time’s failure to secure a government minister rendered this debate useless and Prime Time gave us no real insight on the real facts. It also confirmed the Government has no interest in O Leary’s offer even at this late stage.
It’s clear there is no love lost between Ryanair, successive Fianna Fáil led Governments, DAA and Aer Lingus. Serious questions remain unanswered on the part of the Government or the DAA on why these 500 Ryanair jobs could not have been secured for Dublin Airport, even given that Hangar 6 was crucial to O Leary’s offer. At a time when there are more than 437,000 people unemployed of which 900 are aircraft maintenance technicians.
Michael O’Leary (however brash he is) runs one of the world’s most successful airlines, the latest passenger traffic rose 6% in February compared to the corresponding month in 2009 to 4.37 million, a remarkable fate given the current financial climate. Yet the many elements of the media continue to scorn the undeniable success of Ryanair’s and of its intentions to “really” deliver these jobs, something the Government has conveniently used to cover their own mishandling or unwillingness to secure these 500 jobs.
On the other hand Aer Lingus have not announced the creation of one additional job at Hangar 6 and are currently in discussion with staff on redundancies of 1,100 of the current staff some of which will very likely be in aircraft maintenance. Aer Lingus CEO, Christoph Mueller has stated that its heavy maintenance lease currently carried out in France could not be revised for another 3 years.
Much was made by members at the transport committee of O Leary’s decision to pull planes out of Shannon & yet they failed to acknowledge that Aer Lingus moved its planes from its Shannon base to Belfast. Both of these were commercial decisions and there is no saying that down the road that if O Leary had secured Hangar 6 he may choose to leave in the future, but right now the country need jobs.
Many issues have remained unanswered by Government and Dublin Airport Authority, something the media have failed to fully investigate.
- Was there a competition for Hangar 6?
- Why if Ryanair made an offer to buy/lease Hangar 6 in early 2009 when it was empty did DAA sign a deal Aer Lingus in Dec 2009, without creating a single job?
- Why has Aer Lingus /DAA have not published the terms of the lease for Hangar 6?
- How come the media have failed to produce a single image of these late night works carried out at Hangar 6?
- Media report that the lease is 2.5 million per year if so how can Aer Lingus afford with losses of 100million for last year, was a special done just to keep Ryanair out?
- Can this lease be legally broken?
- Why did the Government not use its 25% strategic share in Aer Lingus plus Ryanair 29% share to force Aer Lingus to move to other suitable hangars at the airport, last year to secure 500 jobs if hangar 6 was the only condition attached?
On the surface the handling of the Ryanair offer appears to have been abysmal by all parties. It does appear that there was collusion between Government DAA and Aer Lingus to keep Ryanair out even at the loss of 500 jobs. It also appear strange that Aer Lingus plans to centralise staff operations was announced on the day before the Transport committee called both O Leary & Mueller to appear. Of course Michael O Leary would use any opportunity to show up the government’s incompetence but in this instance I believe he was right. The real question is how may other job offers have been made by foreign companies that have fell through the cracks of a very ineffective Minister and Department. It does appear that Government and public in general believe that the creation of a Ryanair job is worh less that any other comapny Irish or foreign.
Categories: General Views