O'Leary says Taoiseach's comments 'false'

Wednesday 17 February 2010 22.09
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Michael O'Leary - No need to break lease agreement
Michael O'Leary - No need to break lease agreement
Martin Cullen - Hangar 6 part of Aer Lingus plans
Martin Cullen - Hangar 6 part of Aer Lingus plans
Dáil - Discussed Hangar 6
Dáil - Discussed Hangar 6

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary has said the Taoiseach's comments in the Dáil regarding the contract between the Dublin Airport Authority and the airline are false.

He reiterated that the DAA can require Aer Lingus to vacate Hangar 6 and that this could be done within 12 months and not 24 as the Taoiseach stated today.

Mr O'Leary said Ryanair was in talks with two other European locations and the matter would be resolved within weeks if Hanger 6 was not available.

The CEO chief added that at one of the two other locations there is an offer to build a hanger but he said he would not deal with DAA to build one at Dublin airport.

Earlier Mr O’Leary said the Government can make Hangar 6 available to the airline without breaking the lease agreement with Aer Lingus.

Mr O'Leary said Tanaiste Mary Coughlan told him last night that there is a clause in the agreement which could allow the Dublin Airport Authority to move Aer Lingus out of the hangar.

Mr O'Leary repeated his statement that if the hangar is passed to Ryanair, 300 engineering jobs would be created.

He said the jobs could be up and running in Dublin from this summer.

He also described as a lie, the claim that Ryanair did not try negotiate a lease for the hangar when it came available last year.

Michael O Leary also said that he did not want to turn the hangar into a terminal for his airline.

Earlier, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism Martin Cullen criticised Mr O'Leary for creating the impression that there is no one interested in helping the airline create jobs.

The Minister said there are enough facilities at Dublin Airport for what Ryanair wants to put in place.

On the issue of Hangar 6, he added it would require Aer Lingus vacating it but the hangar itself is part and parcel of Aer Lingus' plans going forward.

Mr Cullen said if other hangers at the airport are unsuitable for Ryanair, the Government would build, with the DAA and the IDA acting as an intermediary, a purpose built facility for Ryanair.

Ryanair said this afternoon that there was no legal impediment to moving Aer Lingus out of the facility. However, a spokesman for the Tánaiste has denied the suggestions by Ryanair.

The spokesman said the DAA could only ask Aer Lingus to move when there were operational requirements, such as engineering works being carried out by the Authority.

In one of the liveliest Dáil sessions for some time this morning, Taoiseach Brian Cowen was accused of not being in charge and of allowing the Dublin Airport Authority to run the country.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said the Government was just making excuses while 300 Ryanair jobs went abroad.

He urged the Taoiseach to call Ryanair's Michael O'Leary's bluff, if he thought that he was bluffing. He said the Taoiseach should call in Mr O'Leary today.

Mr Cowen told the Dáil that the Government was not indifferent about the jobs, but he said they could not break the law.

He said Aer Lingus had a contract for the hangar being sought by Ryanair and he said Aer Lingus indicated they needed it.

He told Mr Kenny that if he tried to tear up that lease, there would be consequences.