To ask the Minister for Transport his plans to bring proposals to Cabinet concerning the sale of Aer Lingus; when he will publish his policy statement for the white paper on the sale of the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Denis Naughten.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 11th May, 2004.
Ref No: 13164/04
Answered by Minister for Transport
As I previously stated in the House, I recently advised my Cabinet colleagues of the current state of my deliberations concerning the future of Aer Lingus and in particular, my concerns relating to maintaining the status quo. I also advised that I will be reverting to Government on specific options for the Company in the near future.
My deliberations which are ongoing at present involve detailed consideration of the reports from the Chairman of Aer Lingus and an independent corporate finance consultant whom I commissioned to look at the sale options for the Company.
During the debates on the Aer Lingus Bill which has recently been enacted, I listened carefully to the concerns raised by Deputies about specific issues in the event of the State exiting from ownership of Aer Lingus. Having taken those concerns on board, I moved an amendment which was accepted to provide that the Minister for Finance may not dispose of any shares in the Company without the general principles of the disposal being laid before and approved by Dail Eireann.
I assured the House that if the Government decides to embark on a sale of all or part of Aer Lingus, I will set out for the House, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the general principles of the proposed sale as well as the basis for the Governments decision and the arguments for and against such a sale. I will also set out how the Government proposes to deal with important strategic issues such as slots at Heathrow.