Last Thursday February 12th, IAG CEO Willie Walsh appeared before The Joint Transport Committee to answer questions on the proposed takeover of Aer Lingus by IAG.

Despite their own assertions to the contrary, the main focus of the politicians on the Joint Transport Committee was centered on the implications of the IAG offer on their own constituencies in the context of the next Irish General Election. The scope of their questioning was predominantly negative, party political, constituency-oriented and too narrowly focused.

There was little or no evidence of any positive or constructive thinking in their approach to questioning Willie Walsh that would have shed further light on IAG’s strategic plans to develop Aer Lingus’s business in an overall long-term Irish economic context insofar as the Irish Takeover Panel Rules would allow. Indeed, many of the questions put to the IAG CEO could not be answered directly as it would have constituted a breach of Irish Takeover Panel Rules.

Which raises the question: Do our politicians, who are responsible for the formulation of legislation and public policy, have the capacity to engage rationally in any way to debate the real issues and opportunities which could arise from the takeover of Aer Lingus by the IAG Group?

As the globalization of World Markets continues, so too does the Aviation Business, which is inextricably linked with this process. And it is within this perspective and that of the relentless consolidation of the Airline Industry that the political representatives of the Oireachtas Transport Committee failed to see the huge potential and employment opportunities which could arise if the IAG takeover of Aer Lingus is allowed to proceed.

1.  What economic value could IAG bring to Ireland Inc in terms of GDP/GNP expansion?.

2.  What opportunities could IAG Group open up to Irish Exporters in terms of the development of Cargo and Air Freight from Ireland?.

3. Could IAG Group expand the presence of carriers BA CityFlyer, Iberia Express and Vueling Airlines to Cork, Ireland West Airport, Kerry and Shannon Airports to increase connectivity opportunities at London City, Madrid and Barcelona?

4. Could IAG Group develop Transatlantic connecting flows from Iberia Express and Vueling Airlines over Dublin and Shannon to North America?.

5. Could IAG Group leverage it’s relationship with Gulf Carrier Qatar Airways to add Dublin Airport to it’s route network to provide increased connectivity over it’s Doha Hub with traffic flows over Dublin to North America with Aer Lingus?.

6. Would IAG consider setting up Maintenance and Repair (MRO) operations in Ireland for it’s new Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft being added to fleet for base maintenance utilizing Hangar 6 to create new employment opportunities?.

7.  Are there any opportunities for IAG and Tourism Ireland to collaborate to leverage IAG’s 77.3 million customer base to promote Ireland?

8. Is there potential for Aer Lingus to negotiate joint-ventures and partnerships within IAG and the Oneworld Alliance to increase traffic flows in to and out of Ireland ?

9. Could IAG create an incentive for fellow Oneworld carrier Finnair to launch a new seasonal Dublin to Helsinki summer service with the objective to extend it to operate on year-round basis?.

10. How could IAG enhance Aer Lingus with new route opportunities presented by the Airbus A350s on order to tap into high growth markets such as Brazil, China, India and Singapore, in order to increase connectivity for FDI and tourism for benefit of Ireland Inc?.

11 What scope is there for the Government to enhance it’s existing taxation policy to further incentizise IAG Group and others to extend their existing engagements with Aircraft Leasing and Financing firms based here in Ireland?.

12.  How could Ireland’s Draft Aviation policy be amended and coupled with the IAG Group’s investment and expansion plans for Aer Lingus to create more broader based synergies and growth for Ireland’s Aerospace Industry?.

13.  Would IAG consider extending it’s current ad-hoc use of Shannon Airport for it’s pilot crew base and conversion training requirements?.

14. What investment would be required in Dublin Airport’s infrastructure to meet IAG’s projected growth plans for Aer Lingus, bearing in mind IALPA submission to this committee?.

15. Could IAG Group establish a joint venture operation with Dublin-based Simtech Aviation for initial and recurrent pilot crew simulator training?.

16. Could the government use some of the proceeds from the sale of Aer Lingus to plug part or all of the deficit for deferred and retired members of the IASS pension scheme?

17. What opportunities could IAG Group open up to Food Irish Exporters?, for example Kerry Gold Butter , Irish Cheese , Butler’s Chocolates , Tayto Crisps ​and other Irish products.  currently available on board Aer Lingus.  This spreads the opportunity to every constituency in Ireland.

Take Tayto for example (next door to the airport) offers  an opportunity to grow jobs to compensate for any potential job loss in Aer Lingus back office.

18. Would IAG support an approach by Bord Bia through IAG Transatlantic Joint-Venture ​​to the possibility of opening up ​Irish beef sales to the world’s largest carrier American Airlines?.

19. Would IAG consider selling attractively priced packages to Ireland utilizing the new China and India Visa wavier agreement between Ireland and UK, through British Airways at London Heathrow to Cork, Dublin and Shannon?

20. Would IAG consider Aerospace supply chain companies North and South of Ireland for future procurement opportunities? take for example B/E Aerospace, Botany Weaving  and Thompson Aero Seating,  ​in terms of​ driving wider ​economic activity​ the development of ​our ​aviation industry?.

21. Would IAG Group consider investment in the former Lufthansa Airmotive facility in Rathcoole to develop in-house engine overhaul capability to supplement it’s existing Iberia Engine Repair Center in Madrid?.

22. Would IAG Group considering sending aircraft scheduled for repainting to Irish company Eirtech Aviation at Dublin and Shannon airports?.

23.  IAG Group carriers British Airways and Vueling Airlines completed a series of Airbus A320 Family base maintenance checks at Dublin Aerospace in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Could IAG Group consider Dublin Aerospace for future maintenance contracts or specific end of lease checks?.

24, Would IAG Group consider launching new seasonal service from Shannon using Aer Lingus to destinations in North America in partnership with Oneworld carrier American Airlines?.

25, Could IAG Group carrier Vueling Airlines launch new seasonal services from Spanish bases to Irish airports to increase inbound tourism?

I will be submitting these questions to Mr John O’Mahony T.D Chairman of Dail Sub-Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 14th February 2015 All Rights Reserved.