Dáil Éireann - Volume 643 - 06 December, 2007

Written Answers. - Aer Lingus.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which the States shareholding in Aer Lingus has been or can be used for the benefit of the company and its international operations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32828/07]

  Deputy Noel Dempsey:The Government’s aviation strategy is to develop as wide a range as possible of competitive, safe and reliable air services for the benefit of business and tourism. In this context the State’s shareholding of 25.4% is important for two key reasons. Firstly, it acts as a block against a hostile takeover of Aer Lingus and ensures that the aviation market in Ireland will continue to be served by at least two strong competing airlines. This is good for consumer choice and for lower air fares. Secondly, the shareholding also ensures that the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Company cannot be changed without the approval of the State. In turn, this means that the safeguard measures relating to a disposal of Heathrow slots cannot be changed by other shareholders. Also, the measures whereby the State can appoint three directors cannot be changed by other shareholders.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 12.