February 16, 2015

Fifty shades of green

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 105 comments ·

Irish politicians were almost unanimously delighted to abandon our national currency and join a currency of countries with which we do modest trade and with whom we have almost no traditional demographic links. These same politicians appear to be unwilling to sell their bit of our national airline to the one carrier that makes commercial sense.

Why is this?

Why would you wholeheartedly give away the currency – which affects everyone’s lives profoundly – to Germany, yet fight tooth and nail for a national carrier because it is being bought by a British carrier? This despite the fact that Britain is our most significant economic, social and cultural partner and Irish visits to Britain and vice versa are the single biggest source of air traffic?

Would there be a similar level of local opposition if the buyer were German? Just asking!

If Aer Lingus is to be sold to anyone, we all know that BA is the obvious partner.

Don’t get me wrong: I love flying Aer Lingus and I get a real feeling of coming home when I fly back to the country on Aer Lingus. For years, Aer Lingus was, in my head anyway, synonymous with home. It still is, but given what is happening to the global airline business, it is hard to see the future for the company without the significant balance sheet, access to cash and access to routes of another bigger carrier. That is just the way the airline business is going.

Maybe the best way to safeguard Aer Lingus is to sell it.

Before I come back to that substantive point about the future of the airline and the trends in the airline business, it might be worthwhile addressing briefly the concept of the ‘national interest’.

For some 1950s reason, airlines are the property of the national project. By this I mean that in many people’s imaginations, proper countries have national airlines – yet, given the way we embrace Ryanair, we like the idea of a national carrier but are quite happy to fly with anyone! Patriotism alone isn’t enough to secure Aer Lingus’s future.

We don’t think this way about cars, or trains, or even shipping.

National airlines are an industrial fetish, a bit like the economic equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey.

The plain vanilla commercial reality is that, unfortunately, it is not who owns them that determines whether they thrive or not, but how many choose to travel with them.

So the national interest is whether the airline has a solid future.

Think about it from another perspective. Many people continue to argue that “we need links to the outside world” and therefore having a domestically-owned, or at least part domestically-owned, national carrier is essential.

Why should this be?

Has it ever crossed your mind that Ireland became an exporting and trading phenomenon without a national shipping company, yet the vast majority of our trade goes by sea?

This is because we don’t need the hyper-nativist approach to transport or economics. Many shipping companies use our ports. They are competitive, they do the job and do you have any idea what they are called? Do you care? The same goes for air transport. You don’t need a government-controlled airline to be a normal country plugged into the world; nor do you need a government-controlled shipping company to be a trading economy.

Once we appreciate this fact, it’s easier to see what is in the best interest of Aer Lingus, the company and its staff. The single best underwriter of Aer Lingus will be the number of passengers.

We have seen unambiguously that people are travelling in a totally different way these days. The main beneficiaries in Europe are the low-cost airlines. Even today, people think of Ryanair as the upstart and Aer Lingus as the incumbent, and yet Ryanair will carry 90 million passengers to Aer Lingus’s nine million. The upstart is ten times bigger than the old hand.

Even BA, a company indelibly linked with British air travel, is only the third biggest carrier in Britain, behind Easyjet and Ryanair. In fact, Ryanair’s ambition is to grow to 150 million passengers by 2020 and next year to knock Easyjet off its number one perch across the water. Ryanair is three times bigger than BA and 30 per cent bigger than German giant Lufthansa.

If you look around Europe, you see that low-cost airlines are the only ones really growing in Europe. What this tells us is that the low-cost model of airline travel is winning. Ryanair has spawned copycat airlines such as Norwegian, Pegasus Airways, Wings and Wizz, all challenging conventional carriers. The future of mass-market air travel in Europe is low cost. And the trick the low-cost carriers stumbled upon is a bit of consumer psychology that we never thought about: people don’t so much travel to destinations as travel at a price – and if you make the price low enough, people will take a chance.

What does Aer Lingus do in this context?

It is a small carrier much like SAS, LOT and Finnair. Its growth is constrained by the national market. The national markets are not growing in the mid-price section and the national populations aren’t growing either. Therefore, it has to figure out another strategy.

The smaller national airlines above all talk about having an Asian strategy – tapping into the only mid-priced market that is growing, namely Asia, by flying Asians to and from Europe using their national airports as hubs. This seems to be a pretty crowded market and it also strikes me as a ‘me too’ strategy.

Looking at Aer Lingus, for years the idea was that Aer Lingus would use its slots at Heathrow to propel Irish people out into the great world. However, Heathrow isn’t the only hub in the world. There are plenty of others. In fact, tying Irish travellers to Heathrow because you want to preserve the ownership structure of the company is strange bit of logic.

This is made all the more odd when you think that the company that wants to buy Aer Lingus is BA, the dominant player in Heathrow. As long as the routes are busy, where’s the problem? Aer Lingus is also being promised by BA that nothing will happen to the slots for five years. Would another suitor promise this?

Then, you think, if it is unlikely that Aer Lingus remains on its own for long, who would be a better suitor? Maybe there is one, but it doesn’t look like that to me.

  1. Fifty Shades of Shite, more like. Morning chaps.

    • Another option might be if we all done a lot more cycling and walking locally and a lot less flying, let many of the planes and their huge polution of the atmosphere go away.

    • Deco

      A reference to state policy in encouraging the FIRE economy (Finance, Investment, Real Estate), and Ponzi-economics as the core economic activity ?

      If so, then I agree entirely.

      The manner in which all aspects of the state and most aspects of the FIRE economy, coalesce, around a policy framework that is designed to suck more money out of people looking for a home is indeed astounding.

    • superdelli

      In fairness, it’s less to do with National pride than it is with jobs. Aer Lingus are Labours baby and they wont publicly do the unions before the election. If Willie comes back in about 18 months he can get itfor less than he’s offering now probably.

      • rockhammer

        Maybe not all to do with the bottom line acquisition £cost tho? By making the purchase now,which he can afford,he takes control in the now,closes out the threat of [present & future] competition,and in doing so,is overall better able to determine a future course of his design,sans any unnecessary turbulence.

        When you buy,you sell,right? It’s plain for anyone to see. A no brainer,surely. He’ll sweat the asset and it’s brand equity for all it’s currently worth and then Aer Lingus will be ‘assimilated’..resistance is futile.

        It’s a jungle out there !!

  2. Irish people don’t think like that about cars because they’ve never built any to my knowledge.

    The French are well into their Renault, Peugeot and Citroën, and I expect the Irish would be into the Paddymobile if it came out, but it won’t.

    Who makes trains for Irish Rail, the DART, trams for LUAS etc.?

    • woodsey

      Now don’t give mw a hint! I’ll try and get it in one! Alstom? But the most important thing is … we beat them at rugby this weekend so that settles the whole of life, the world and everything!

  3. As for Aer Lingus – sell it. Life goes on.

  4. woodsey

    So maybe now someone can tell us why we need to have a national airline? Or a national broadcaster or the wasteful form of ‘Imitate the Brits’-type of national government that we all seem SO anxious to fund? Bit of ‘outside the box’-thinking badly needed in this over-priced, over-taxed and over-borrowed tiny island, lying off an island off the coast of Europe.

  5. michaelcoughlan

    Hi David,

    Plenty of talk about the aircraft slots in Heathrow but no talk of the job slots in Aer lingus. 1 In 4 to lose their jobs;

    I suppose they could negotiate a cheap flight as part of their severance package for the first part of their trip to Australia where they can get a job that pays properly.


    • michaelcoughlan

      I am not being adversarial just for the sake of it. I think that if it is sold to IAG then the long term viability of the employment in the Airline needs to be considered.


      • The long term viability of any employment whatsoever is not guaranteed Michael – why should Aer Lingus buck that trend?

        • michaelcoughlan

          Thanks Adam.

          I made my point badly. Of course you are accurate. I was just trying to highlight that if a business is growing by turning the employment conditions into zero hour min wage contracts it doesn’t benefit anyone except the CEO.

          McWilliams has made two points I subscribe to;

          Your spend is my earnings and my earnings is your custom. Less earnings is less spend meaning lower business income equals deflation.

          The other point he has been making is the increasing lop sided return to capital versus labour.

          Ryanair had 9500 employees in 2014 and made over a billion in profit. An extra 10k in the wages of the bottom 2000 workers would only take 20m off the bottom line but make a huge difference to the workers, their families, communities etc.

          Aer lingus could take this point into consideration.


          • Yes Ryanair should pay the extra 10k a year – but they won’t. Neither will Aer Lingus though, no matter who owns them.

            Pure greed reigns in the boardroom these days – probably more than it ever has in history.

            Until the 99% rise up, we are stuck with the current imbalances.

          • woodsey

            Why is employment so precious? Employment is not a right. Employment is only an offer. It’s this emphasis on employment, in an economy too small to support its population, that has Ireland dependent on bribing inward foreign investors to come and set up here as part of the world wide

          • michaelcoughlan


            Your post is so nonsensical it barely merits a response but just for your info read the following extract from the universal declaration on human rights especially sub section 3;

            (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

            (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

            (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.


    • Mugdorna

      @micheal…..the fears of 1000 job losses are union scaremongering. This figure is based on the restructuring that took place in Iberia. Aer Lingus has already gone thru this process. The only jobs at risk in EI are IT/Admin/HR positions…mobile positions. The specialist employee group will grow if EI expands…which it can do with a large backer. As a stanalone airline any growth will be slow and incremental….look at their “Florida expansion” this summer!

      And Micheal please be aware that even with their new business model and focus on costs Aer Lingus have stayed away from the Zero Hour contracts exemplified by ‘the other’ Irish airline.

      • michaelcoughlan


        Thanks for the correction of my error on the 1000 jobs issue. I hope that Aer lingus can grow and be competitive and create a better balance than the other airline even if a few more jobs have to go initially.


  6. woodsey

    … conspiracy to defraud nations of their taxation!

  7. I am struggling to see how Ireland’s interests and Willie Walsh’s interests could possibly be one and the same.

    Willie is very good at what he does. Dublin-Heathrow will become an IAG monopoly route and Willie will raise prices. Passenger headcount will drop and magically, we’ll have the commercial rationale for re-assigning the infamous slots.

    Willie’s a numbers man so let’s use numbers. The state stand to make approx. €300m on the sale – they can fund that at 1.9% over 30 years currently. So the justification for taking this money is…as I said I’m struggling.

    • The so-called ‘government’ here can no more take care of ‘Ireland’s interests’ through blocking the sale of an airline, than they can take care of any of Ireland’s other interests through corrupt and incompetent mismanagement.

      They need to get out of the way, which is about all they are capable of doing. It’s not about the money per se.

      A lot of people complain about travelling to Heathrow in any case – they’ll simply switch to Ryanair through Gatwick and Standsted if the Heathrow prices rise.

      • Yes. Ryanair is probably our greatest business success stories in modern times -and the government in the 80s wanted them out of business by only letting them fly from Waterford. 6/7 years ago the average salary for Ryanair was nearly 60k yet with Aer Lingus it was 82k!- the end result of a government monopoly which ripped us off and nearly went bankrupt in 2001. It was the EU and the Thatcher gov which paved the way for Ryanair to succeed and result in more of us being able to afford to fly. Clearly those who oppose this takeover know little about business.

      • Two sides to that coin.

        You seem happy to trust the govt to put any profits they make here to good use.

        Cost-benefit approach says keep the asset and don’t let the government lose with 300 million to try to buy the next election.

        • How can I ‘seem happy’? If it’s me you are referring to.

          I just said the government are a shower of corrupt and incompetent fools. 300 million is not going to make a difference to that either way.

          They shouldn’t be involved in this – they have no ability to run anything properly.

          • If you’re advocating the sale of the asset, you’re advocating the profit from the sale going into the hands of the owners of the asset, so it means you’re happy to trust the govt with €300m in the war chest with a general election looming. You can’t have one without the other. I’d prefer the state keeps the asset. The idea that “government should just get out of the way” is fine, but maybe they’d be doing less harm by just sitting on the asset…

          • Right you are then, you have nailed me there with your remarkable logic, not to mention psychic abilities.

            One unfounded assumption after another… after another… does not a valid statement make.

            For the THIRD time, I don’t trust the government with anything, I don’t even recognize them.

            That’s nothing to do with whether Aer Lingus should be sold or not.

          • Robert Mc Call

            All this brouhaha about the branding of a shamrock? Yes it worked beautifully.And now it’s over, or heading that way.

            GET OVER IT

            and if needs be,i’m confident that the Irish can muster enough imagination for a new design + a new branding strategy to market our little island, maybe even a superior strategy than before??

            Imagine that.

      • SMOKEY

        Actually Mr Abyss,
        They aren’t able to “GET OUT OF THEIR OWN WAY”.
        But you knew that already.

    • Deco

      Willis is doing what Willis does, and he is doing it well.

      Our politicians have no game plan, apart from making themselves look better than they actually are.

      Politics is show business for ugly people.

      Politics is salesmanship for people with no service worth buying.

  8. Mike Lucey

    There is nothing gray about this,

    Fri 20 Feb – Sat 21 Feb
    Aer Lingus – Shannon To London/Heathrow (LHR) = €292.98
    Ryanair – Shannon (SNN) To London / London Gatwick = €192.98

    Gatwick Express return £31.05
    Heathrow Express £35.00

    €100+ extra to fly Aer Lingus and this is the average extra involved on all dates.

    Nuf said!

  9. Original-Ed

    The love affair with all things German goes back to the very early years in this state. Impoverished and ostracised it was going no where and with a distinct possibility of having to beg to be let back into the union. Then in 1925 along came the Germans with a proposal to build a hydro-electric dam on the Shannon. This state was only three years into going it alone and the Germans were on the floor, being screwed for war reparations by the British, French and all the other go the road merchants.
    Down but not out, the Germans took a gamble on this huge project that amounted some 20% of our GNP.
    This was the largest engineering project in the world at that time and only surpassed by the Hoover Dam in the US some ten years later.

    The Financial Times comment: They have thrown on their shoulders the not easy task of breaking what is in reality an enormous inferiority complex and the Shannon Scheme is one – and probably the most vital – of their methods of doing it.

    This was the key to becoming a viable state and the older generation loved all things German from then on – even I remember when the German two pin Electric Socket was a standard fitting.

    Also, Hermit Khol gave us a gift of a sizable amount of German EU funds back when we were last bust in Albert Reynolds time.

    As for Aer lingus, as a small business traveler, I always avoid it after two incidence – one almost arrested for – back in their arrogant days. Who cares whether it gets taken over or not, to me they are self serving and not the friendly business airline that they would have us believe. Thank god for Michael !

    • Pat Flannery

      Original-Ed: Thank you for that. Siemens built Ardnacrusha power plant despite the howls of derision from the Brits and the West Brits of Dublin. Little has changed.

      • Colin

        Anyone know of the great Thomas McLaughlin?

        Limerick University have a staircase named in his honour, but that’s about it really, which is a huge shame. Maybe we can put that right on the upcoming centenary of the Ardnacrusha power plant?


        • Pat Flannery

          Well done Colin. I think he made a bigger contribution to Limerick and Ireland than Limerick’s favorite politician Michael Noonan to whom statues will undoubtedly be erected.

          BTW I believe there were numerous Irish studies done following Tesla’s demonstration of the distributive advantages of AC over Edison’s DC in the U.S. particularity the implementation of the Niagara Scheme and the Chicago World Fair.

          These studies identifying the lower Shannon’s potential but the then British Government rejected them. Thomas McLaughlin knew there was no point in going to the Brits with the idea which is why he went to the Germans. He was right.

    • coldblow

      Only the last bit of the ballad my father picked up on his tape recorder on a visit ‘home’ in 1961, written by one neighbour and sung by another. I suspect the other verses list the other towns in the area:

      … And Roscommon and the County Longford
      Meath, Westmeath and Miltown Malbay
      And around Athlone and Ballyhaunis
      And Claremorris and Castlerea
      And Ballaghaderreen and the County Leitrim
      Go where you will it is all the same
      All along the border our lamps are shining
      With the electric light from the Shannon Scheme

      Our Parliament from us was stolen
      By cursed fraud and by foreign plan
      But now thank God they are restored
      And sitting once more in College Green
      Just passing laws for the Irish Free State
      Which I hope and honour you will uphold her name
      And enjoy with pleasure our greatest treasure
      The electric light from the Shannon Scheme

  10. woodsey

    @michaelcolgan – Ah Michael, waving your declaration of human rights about the place might help the ethics of a nation that’s unable to employ its people without bribing multinationals to cheat on their people. It’s sorta moral thingy that the UDHR is supposed to cover but … ?!

  11. Adelaide

    Yesterday, Cormac Lucy’s ‘Sunday Times Business Section’ piece on just how dire Ireland’s debt is (2nd most indebted country in the world after Japan, those two countries jut out like sore thumbs on a global debt chart, by the way Greece is sixth and looks respectful compared to us) and how our national government no longer serves the ‘national interest’ but simply serves up propaganda.
    My own plagiarised analogy is the Irish economy is a runaway bus hurtling down a hill towards the edge of a cliff and the government-driver’s solution is to simply blacken out the windows and tell the passengers the bus is now going uphill.

    • Deco

      The government’s solution to the debt problem seems to be to get more debt.

      They are doing all they can to drive up real estate prices.
      They want to set up Irish water, so that they can have off-balance sheet debt.
      They are running NAMA as a debt machine.
      They lobbed private debts onto the national debt, and sold it to the people as a “game-changer”.
      They are doing all they can to push up the cost of living so that nobody will be able to pay down debt early.

      In other words, the Irish political mainstream (FF+FG+LP+GP) is committed to Ponzi-economic based more debt policies.

      All that remains is for each of you to live by your own conscience and steer clear of this nonsense.

      • michaelcoughlan

        “All that remains is for each of you to live by your own conscience and steer clear of this nonsense”

        Thats correct. Never have truer words been spoken.


    • Mike Lucey

      @ Adelaide

      Please don’t forget the ‘e’ in Lucey. Its highly valued by the clan ;-)

      Cormac Lucey “Do not weep,….
      Change in debt-to-GDP ratio, ’2007-14

      Cormac always gets his point across effectively but I notice the the chart he shows has been truncated between 130 – 170% making Ireland look less out on a limb!

  12. woodsey

    @michaelcolgan … & just 2 B sure, ‘… the right to work, the free choice òf employment…’ are very different and laudable concepts, light years removed from a nation’s amoral scramble to PROVIDE employment, dressed up as ‘Inward Foreign Investment’.

    • michaelcoughlan


      I actually agree with the points I think you are making. I just meant that you drafted your post in a way that left me confused. I apologise if you are offended.


      • woodsey

        @michaelcoughlan – ‘Must try harder!’? No offence but I’m just not a fan of ‘job-loss’ or ‘job-creation’ being used as ‘sacred cows’ to legitimise commercial decision-making.

  13. Deco

    How come nobody has mentioned the issue of slots in other busy continental airports, like AMS, FRA, Paris CDG, Milan-Linate or Malpensa ?

    Not a word about it.

    I flew BA twice, and I never went back. They lost my luggage in one direction, and nearly caused me to miss my connection in the other.

    BA are also very expensive. More expensive than Aer Lingus, or KLM most of the time.

    IAG are simply buying up a competitor, so that they will have one less to deal with.

    Where is the competition authority of Ireland ?

    They are once again administering “soft-touch” regulation. This means they are selling out the public interest.

    The solution is simple.

    Separate the landing slots for LHR, BIR, AMS, FRA, CDG, LIN, etc.. from the rest of Aer Lingus, and have these in public ownership.

    In other words, the public retain what is in the public interest.

  14. Martin C

    This is the second time that David has touched on this subject. Frankly I am quite disappointed in the fiscal stance that David is taking, reminiscent of that iconic film involving Geckos’ speech “greed is good” where he was posing as the Knight in shining armour, and would go in and turn the company around but in the end really just wanted the blue star for its assets and landing slots.
    Aer Lingus is a business, yes that is true, and companies have to make money to survive, that is there fundamental point of existence. Regretfully Aer Lingus and many other national carriers as has been pointed out are currently being eclipsed by some of its reportedly “less expensive” competitors, but there is more to it than that.
    As someone who has travelled a lot both form Ireland to all over the world on business, and now back to IRELAND as an Exile of the failed economic wake that is the legacy of governments past. Aer Lingus represents a number of different things to different people, it represents jobs, tourism, connectivity with the world, and the biggest advertisement campaign for IRELAND that there is.
    IAG are only after one thing, the Heathrow slots 5 years of a guarantee is a short time. Why would you fly an Airbus A320 from London to Dublin or cork which is a short trip with circa 200 people in it when you can get an airbus A380 into the same slot with over double the number of people on it for a much more expensive long haul flight. Coincidently the busiest route currently in the skies in Europe isn’t London to Brussels or Berlin or Paris, its London to Dublin.
    The goal of aer lingus is not to be the cheapest and the biggest and to have interesting interior décor in their planes making you feel like you have just stepped inside and inverted banana with no sunglasses which some people may find an assault on their visual senses. No, Aer Lingus represents something else. It’s like the difference between Aldi and Dunne’s stores, they both do the same thing, one is just more expensive than the other and still people go to both, some because of the fiscal difference, and other simply because they choose to do so as a personal preference.
    Aer Lingus represents the type of person who want that little bit more for customer service and comfort, a concept lost on many of the larger and apparently” less expensive” competitors. This is why airlines offer different seating classes on their flights as they have passengers that require different services.
    The shamrock has done more for tourism and business that board Failte and the IDA put together. People don’t sit at ports and look at cruise ships, people sit in airport lounges and look out at planes that go to all different places all over the globe. And the green shamrock is unique no matter where it lands whether it is in Europe or America which by the way most of the customer base of Aer Lingus goes.
    If Aer Lingus is sold it will just show again as previously in the effervescence years of the Celtic tiger that everything has a price, and that nothing is sacred, and don’t forget “blue horseshoe loves blue star”.

    • michaelcoughlan

      “If Aer Lingus is sold it will just show again as previously in the effervescence years of the Celtic tiger that everything has a price, and that nothing is sacred”

      “We know their dream; enough
      To know they dreamed and are dead;
      And what if excess of love
      Bewildered them till they died?
      I write it out in a verse –
      MacDonagh and MacBride
      And Connolly and Pearse
      Now and in time to be,
      Wherever green is worn,
      Are changed, changed utterly:
      A terrible beauty is born”

      Ireland is being turned into one fucking ugly bitch now that the green of the shamrock is sold so cheap when the patriots sold their lives so dearly.


      • Deco

        The day that we signed up to the Maastricht Treaty, a terrible ugliness was born.

        A pro-corporatist super-structure, for devising state policies in contravention of the wishes of the people, came into being.

        It is not a Union. It is an imposition. The Brussels regulation machine for ensuring that everybody obeys the whims of lobbyists and corporatism.

        A terrible ugliness was born.

        And from that ugliness has emanated misery in so many countries, so much lying, so much deceit. And massive corruption.

  15. SMOKEY

    I feel far more sentimental about the Irish landscape than I do about Cunni lingus. I would support the sale. I would not however support the windfarms that are blighting the landscape so the electricity can be sold to mainland Europe or England. The recent asinine suggestion that pylons be erected in the middle of the Comeragh Mountains is another one worth fighting against. But the airline, eh, let it go.
    Now, as for 50 shades? Here is what happens when counterculture mixes with the mainstream. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rNKWAqzxzU&feature=youtu.be

  16. paulpw

    Just to remind ourselves,

    1. A few years ago Aer lingus(like all national airlines) was going bust fast) we hired Willie Walsh to save it and he did by turning it into a Ryanair.

    2. Willie proposed a management buyout of Aer lingus so he could finish the job free of govmnt interference, he was laughed at so left for the gig at BA.

    3. The government then went and sold Aer lingus by IPO keeping a MINORITY share of 25%.

    That’s right folks….we don’t actually own Aer lingus except for a minority share holding….we already sold it. If we were really that worried about the slots and keeping the shamrock flying etc. we should have NOT sold it all those years ago.

    4. The current management of Aer Lingus actually moved some of those “precious” slots from Cork ? Shannon ?(can’t remember) to Belfast.
    Some who do you trust to keep their word about the slots ?

    This whole debacle reminds me of a play on “The RTE” years ago about a little old Cork lady who sold her shares to buy a fur coat but kept calling on her stock broker to collect her “divies” every year.

    If the politicians want something to grandstand about why don’t start lobby to bring the flying boats back to Foynes.

    That might bring in a few tourists and create a few jobs, if we hurry the moulds might be still up in Short’s attic in Belfast ;).

    On a more personal note….back in my consultancy days when I was flying weekly from Dublin to various places I avoided Heathrow like the plague,
    Schiphol was my hub of choice….Gatwick if no other choice, never Heathrow…either me or my luggage missed the connection almost every time.

    Getting stranded on a Friday night in an Airport which one would you choose..
    One a short train ride to Amsterdam… or one in lovely Middlesex ?

    Dublin has the potential to become a hub anyway and for some of the regional uk airports it already is starting to become just that.

    Lets just sell the damn thing to Willie and move on ..

    The man knows how to run a damn airline better than anyone else and the slots are not ours to argue over anyways.

  17. Pat Flannery

    Who are the real European patriots here? Another great explanation of what is at stake here by Yanis Yaroufakis:


    This could never have been written by a current Irish minister. Our elected have become servile and slavish or maybe the words “blue shirt” gets to the heart of it.

    • Mike Lucey

      When Yanis Yaroufakis speaks I tend to listen, simply because I can understand what he is saying. This is not the case with other EU talking heads.

      I think the EU heads really have no idea how to deal with or handle Yanis Yaroufakis mainly because IMO he is not a politician first or maybe not at all. He looks and sound like a man that is speaking reality and this is something that the EU has never really faced up to since its inception, ‘one size does not fit all’ and never did or will.

      • He stands head & shoulders above any other politician, economist or academic in Europe, and has done for a number of years now. I think he will go down in history.

      • Mike Lucey

        Yes, most definitely he does. I think his ability to speak in plain language is his best ability. They say that a master of his subject has the ability to make it sound simple enough so that the man on the street can understand the basics.

  18. mishco

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that bellwether of some airline brands: the stewardess. Singapore Airlines in particular has made great capital out of this, and I would hate to see our finest in green with the cheery smiles and soft accents lose their jobs. They are one reason I’m flying the last leg of my flight to Ireland from Asia this summer from AMS (the other reasons being price and the connection at Schiphol). If you’re faced with a choice between the battleaxes of Aeroflot and our colleens, which would you choose? If Willie gets Aer Lingus, I’m sure he’ll do the right thing anyway and preserve these key players. Ryanair is the de facto national airline, and I’d like to see it simply renamed as such (suggestions?). The question of ownership does not affect the vast majority of our people anyway, as they see none of the profits.

  19. Daithi7

    I don’t have any idealogical view on this sale. All I know is that monopolies are bad for everybody (except those working for them (in the short term anyhow)), and that selling to Ryanair would have been a complete disaster for Ireland as a whole. Selling to IAG(BA), fine, I’ve no issue whatsoever, except the government should perhaps see if they can take out the Heathrow slots from the parent company and accept cash plus retain the slots which they would agree to leaseback to Aer Lingus for 10 years say.

    The slots are really the only strategic thing of value to Ireland, having an Airline in itself is now just hubris, what we want and need is competitive access and that would be best served by retaining the slots separately imho.

    p.s. as for the unions, ……fup em, haven’t we seen enough of their caustic affects over the past 10-15 years to be now able to ignore them. All they do is represent the views of a small vested interest normally to the detriments of the consumer, government, enterprise and wider society.

    p.p.s. while the government are restructuring and restrategising Ireland’s airline sector, perhaps they could finally free Cork from being run the Dublin Airport Authority. (Monopolies indeed!!)

  20. Pat Flannery

    A rational proposal:

    The Irish Government and Ryanair should set up a holding company (called Irish Air Holdings, IAH for example), transfer the Aer Lingus Heathrow landing rights to this company and sell the remaining Aer Lingus operation to IAG.

  21. Ladies and gentleman, I give you David’s favourite journalist – the prolific George Monbiot:

    “A maverick currency scheme from the 1930s could save the Greek economy”


    “One of these radical ideas was proposed a few months ago by Martin Wolf in the Financial Times. He suggests stripping private banks of their remarkable power to create money out of thin air. Simply by issuing credit, they spawn between 95% and 97% of the money supply. If the state were to assert a monopoly on money creation, governments could increase their supply without increasing debt. Seigniorage (the difference between the cost of producing money and its value) would accrue to the state, adding billions of pounds to national coffers. The banks would be reduced to the servants, not the masters, of the economy.”

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi Adam.

      This has been discussed ad nauesum. Your points of view on bit coin are much more prescient because the circumstance re bank issuing currency or the government issuing misses a very important point.

      True Govt. issued currency doesn’t have interest to pay but the politicians control the process. Far better for the money to come into circulation from a situation where NO ONE entity controls the process. Its the de centralised nature of the idea which really frees the people.


      • Yes, you are right Michael but unlike the incorrible goldbugs that haunt the Internet, I don’t like to bang on about #BITCOIN #BITCOIN #BITCOIN all the time.

        Besides, it’s the doing, not the waffling about it, that’s important – and I AM doing it.

        I messaged Mr. Monbiot on Twitter tonight (and a few days ago), and also in the comments section of that Guardian article, requesting that he take a closer look at Bitcoin – as substitute for his stamp scrips, in the digital age.

        Let’s hope he does look into it.

        • Well, Mr. Monbiot replied to me on Twitter this morning and said he will look into Bitcoin more closely, so that’s a positive result.

          He made two objections to Bitcoin – the ‘fixed supply’ objection (which is an utter red herring) and the volatility/speculation objection which has more merit at present but which can also be countered in a rational fashion.

          I have supplied him with more information and some links.

          All you can do is inform people to the best of your ability and let them make their own decisions.

          • marked as spam

            You clearly have the intellectual insights to ask the right questions and highlight why bitcoin works and where it has some weaknesses and i wouldn’t be alone here in hearing your countering of the volatility/speculation argument in a rational fashion …and not in a throwing down the gauntlet kinda way Adam.

            My impression (and my knowledge of crypto currencies is super weak) is that the largest owner(s) are an unknown entity and that alone for me is very disconcerting.

            As an alternative to,or a put to the euro or USD,fine.But a long term ‘steady’ means of exchange ( and wealth protection) i’m not sure,but i’m clueless of bitcoin.

            [and i see Ripple’s presence on the web growing like crazy? Another option to debt based fiat i suppose and if enough people participate …

            life’s a game of inches

            any audio blog links would be much appreciated…i seem to learn well that way

          • I’ll get back to you on this ‘marked as spam’. Just extremely busy at the moment, only knocking off work now at 1.15am. Back on it at 7.30.

            Or else email me at adamabyss *at* hotmail.com

            Here’s a good video from Andreas Antonopolous, excellent place to start on Bitcoin, you can also just listen to it:

            Andreas Antonopolous has many good videos on YouTube.

          • marked as spam

            Thanks Adam and don’t overwork to the point of exhaustion….you’ll be no good to anyone then,like this guy :)


          • Robert Mc Call

            tail over teakettle again,eh?

            *shake of head*


            now there,fixed it for ya


  22. Yanis Varoufakis in today’s Guardian:

    “Yanis Varoufakis: How I became an erratic Marxist”


  23. [...]  Even though loyalty has a part to play, travel (and logistics in general) is about convenience – that is, value for money, the shortest route and the fastest time. Keeping a healthy network of connections open, both by air and sea, is an essential survival strategy for any island nation – not only for leisure or business travel, but also for trade links. [...]

  24. [...] Even though loyalty has a part to play, travel (and logistics in general) is about convenience – that is, value for money, the shortest route and the fastest time. Keeping a healthy network of connections open, both by air and sea, is an essential survival strategy for any island nation – not only for leisure or business travel, but also for trade links. [...]

  25. paulpw

    All joking aside, apparently almost every train and carriage used on the Irish railways up to 1950 was manufactured at Inchicore works and it apparently employed 7000 workers at one time(not sure about the source of this figure…seems insanely large).
    Yep I know……I’m a train spotter ;)

  26. My father worked there for 10 years as a fitter, then 10 years at the North Wall depot but I never knew the trains were made there – before my time.

    I acquired my forklift licences at Inchicore in the 1990s, it was much quieter there for sure in comparison to my recollection as a small child when there with my father.

  27. rockhammer

    Very honest if not a little odd,but thanks for sharing Adam.

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