Shannon/Heathrow Service’s Death Warrant, Signed By Aer Lingus

Transport Minister Noel DempseyTransport Minister Noel Dempsey must come up to prevent the death warrant for the Shannon/Heathrow service being signed by Aer Lingus, said Fine Gael.

The call came as anger grew, with Aer Lingus being accused of turning its back on Shannon and of reneging on a commitment it only recently gave to unions in relation to maintain its schedule at airport.

Dermot Mannion, the airline’s chief executive is expected to travel to the airport today to inform staff of move. Withdrawing the Shannon-Heathrow route in favor of Belfest could result in up to 50 job losses.

Mr. Mannion is due to travel to Stromont where a big expansion of airline’s services from the city will be trumpeted.

Tony Carroll, spokesman of SIPTU said, “During our discussions with Aer Lingus over the past nine months, Dermot Mannion said that any new expansion by the airline would not be at the expense of any existing station,”

“This decision about the Heathrow route however flies in the face of what the company has been saying.”

Local Fine Gael TD Pat Breen talked to Minister to intervene for stopping the death warrant being signed for regular Shannon-Heathrow service.

He insisted, “As a shareholder in the company, the Minister must make it clear to Aer Lingus that retention of the existing slots to and from Shannon are critical to providing connectivity to this region”.

“Taoiseach and Government should urge British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to make extra Heathrow slots separately available for Belfast "as an acknowledgement of the dividend of the peace process in Northern Ireland,” he said.

When speaking about threat, SIPTU representative Mr. Carroll said, “I don’t want to pre-empt what Aer Lingus will announce, but it is difficult to believe that there will be no consequences for jobs at Shannon if four [daily] flights are going to be dropped.”

Tony Killeen, the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, said “Nobody believes that Aer Lingus will have the same high load factor out of Belfast as it had at Shannon, given that it will be competing with at least two other major airlines on that route. This is something Aer Lingus will have to explain.”

Mayor of Shannon Councilor Sean McLoughlin also called on the Minister for Transport to stop the transfer.

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