State intervention may be needed to ensure the future viability of Aer Lingus and the job prospects of its 4,000 employees, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Speaking after the publication of International Airlines Group’s annual results, Senator Regina Doherty has called for a cash injection to Aer Lingus to ensure that the company stays active and ready to return to its previous levels when safe travel is allowed.
Senator Doherty said: “As an island nation so reliant on our links and relationships around the world, securing our connectivity post-Covid is hugely important, and a strong Aer Lingus must be a part of it.
“IAG, Aer Lingus’s parent body, released its annual report this morning showing an almost €7billion loss last year, with Aer Lingus losing €563million. With the potential for loss of significant jobs and routes, and the disastrous overall impact that could have for the country, the Government must immediately examine how best to financially support the airline.”
Senator Doherty continued: “Up to December of last year, 16 EU countries had provided some form of State aid to their flag carrier airlines or otherwise, many in the form of bailouts in exchange for equity or guarantees of job security.
“I’m not saying the State should start buying back its stake in Aer Lingus, but I do believe supporting the company to ensure its survival and help it get back on its feet later this year is in all of our best interests. If we are not careful and don’t take immediate action, we won’t have a competitive aviation sector left to aid Irelands recovery when we will need it most.”
Senator Doherty concluded: “Aer Lingus can avail of the range of supports that are available to all businesses here and also recently benefitted from supports from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund.
“However, I believe it is time for our Government’s direct intervention in Aer Lingus, like so many other EU governments have done to ensure the sustainability of their national airlines.”