The Irish Exporters Association have expressed concern that the sale of the Irish government’s share in Aer Lingus would severely curtail Ireland’s ability to transport air cargo to and from the US, the Irish Examiner reports.
Aer Lingus currently carries goods that amount to 52% of Irish exports to the US, and 43% of US imports to Ireland, according to the Examiner. €18 billion of the over €22 billion import/export industry between the countries lies in pharmaceutical and medical technology, which must be exported by air.
Ryanair has expressed interest in the government’s quarter-share of the airline.
“Ryanair have a policy of not handling air cargo across their entire fleet,” John Whelan, chief executive of the exporters association, told the Examiner. “If they succeed in buying this stake they are likely to drop air cargo handling.
“We want certainty for our investors,” he said. “Whether Ryanair is the buyer or not we believe it should not be sold.”
he British Competition Authority may yet prevent Ryanair from purchasing the share of Aer Lingus, but for Whelan, that potential is too insecure.
“Sitting on our hands and hoping is not the way to go,” he said.
The association will provide a report to the government next month to substantiate the importance of Aer Lingus’ air cargo transport to Ireland’s import/export business with the US, according to the Examiner.
On Wednesday, the board of Aer Lingus urged shareholders to reject Ryanair’s bid for the company.
In a statement, the board said the budget airline’s offer of f €1.30 per share "fundamentally undervalues" Aer Lingus.
Ryanair currently owns 29.8 percent of Aer Lingus.