Irish government will not sell 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus stake is not for sale, says Irish government.

The government has effectively done a u-turn on plans to sell its 25 percent stake in Aer Lingus.

When Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin announced government plans to sell a number of state assets he said its holding in Aer Lingus would be put under the block “in the right circumstances.”

But that plan is on hold now.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar told The Irish Times in an interview last weekend that he did not favor selling the stake for the moment and that the government was not pursuing it.

“What we’ve said consistently is that we’ll sell the stake at the right time, at the right price, and under the right conditions,” Varadkar said.

 “And the more that I think about what that means, I find it very hard to see when the right time is, what the right price is, and what the right conditions would be.”

Varadkar said it was very unlikely any investor would come along at the right time and meet those conditions.

Separately, on Monday the results of a ballot among cabin crew at the airline was announced. They voted by a margin of 91 percent to nine percent in favor of industrial action.

That could mean passengers facing the threat of a strike during the busy run-up to Christmas.

Representatives of cabin crew and officials of their trade union, Impact, will meet over the coming days to decide on strategy.

Impact has not served notice of strike action on the airline. But a union spokesman said that industrial action would be inevitable unless there was either a face-to-face engagement between the parties or through a third party.

The dispute centers on rostering arrangements and separate plans by Aer Lingus to close its cabin crew base at Shannon Airport.

The cabin crew branch of Impact said in a statement that the ballot for industrial action had “been provoked by Aer Lingus management’s attitude and behavior on a wide range of issues.”

The statement claimed there was a breach of existing agreements with staff which made the working lives of cabin crew “increasingly difficult in recent years.”

Impact said that cabin crew at all Aer Lingus bases were resolved to fight the closure of the Shannon facility and protect the 87 jobs there.

A separate dispute over the pension scheme for staff at Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) continues to run in the background.

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