The Dublin Airport Authority has notified unions that the Government intends to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority on 31 December 2012.
The proposal is part of a Government strategy to create a merged entity in Shannon with three pillars: airport operations, Shannon Development property assets, and a newly-developed International Aviation Services Centre (IASC).
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Jobs & Enterprise Richard Bruton are due to formally announce the Government's proposals on Monday.
It is understood the Government believes that the new entity has potential for creating up to 3000 private sector jobs at Shannon within five years by fostering an avionics industry there.
However, in a letter to Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, ICTU General Secretary David Begg said the proposals were “founded on blind faith and wishful thinking on the part of certain interests”.
He said success appears to come down to dramatically increasing passenger numbers by 50% within a very short time scale but fears the proposals would give too much leverage to airlines - a clear reference to Ryanair.
He disputed that there is any imperative to proceed with separating Shannon Airport within weeks in the context of covenants with DAA bondholders.
Mr Begg proposed that staff should remain in the employment of the DAA, while putting in place secondment arrangements with the new entity.
He also warned that Congress will take all necessary steps with the law to defend the interests of union members.
Mr Begg said he has based his opinions on a ICTU-commissioned report from accountancy firm Mazars which warned that the government proposals carry a “substantial implementation risk”.
However, Government sources noted that their business plan had been stress-tested by KPMG who had described them as robust and that the new entity would be financially viable.
They say that while change always involves some risk, in this case doing nothing is not an option, given falling passenger numbers at Shannon Airport, and the unsustainable financial position of Shannon Development.