With Aer Lingus pilots threatening to strike next week, I have a feeling that there is something that the public and the people of Shannon and the mid-west aren’t being told over the Aer Lingus Shannon-Heathrow debacle.
I suspect there’s been some murky deal here, where the government have agreed to contribute to Northern Ireland’s economic development by handing them two free pairs of Heathrow slots that rightfully belonged to the people of Shannon and the mid-west.
Perhaps that’s why senior ministers first took their time and then said so little on the matter.
Was the price of peace selling out an important economic link for Shannon and the mid-west?
Was there a behind-the-scenes agreement at some point between Aer Lingus chief executive Dermot Mannion and the government that the slots would be taken to Belfast?
This is a transfer of economic benefit and future wealth not only to Northern Ireland, but also to Aer Lingus shareholders.
It strikes me that Aer Lingus are effectively stealing the Heathrow slots from the people of Shannon and the midwest.
The Shannon-Heathrow slots could be worth anything up to €20m. Therefore, if Aer Lingus want to take those slots to Belfast, they should pay for them. Perhaps then the money can be used to somehow rectify the situation.
Jersey in the Channel Islands re-instated its twice daily Heathrow return flight earlier this year and paid BMI an incentive – the figure was not made public – but one blog rumour suggested it was £10 million, which effectively covers the cost of the Heathrow slots.
Perhaps something like this might be an option.