International experts say that Aer Lingus is a good return for the taxpayer but what are the challenges for the national airline?

While no one can deny that Aer Lingus provides employment, brings foreign capital into the country and creates new opportunities for tourism and industry, questions remain on what it is doing to ensure profits in the long term. 

One major outlay faced by the airline each year is payments made towards the cost of new aircraft, which must be imported from abroad. 

While these imports will ultimately result in an increase in profits in the tourism and industry sectors, there is no guarantee that Aer Lingus can continue to match the demand in the future.

There has been criticism of the airline’s decision to take an option on the Boeing Supersonic transport project, instead of with the Anglo-French Concorde. 

Boeing’s plans are still on the drawing board, while the first Concordes are expected to be delivered in 1973 to Aer Lingus’ main competitions Pan-American, BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) and Air France,

Why Aer Lingus didn’t back both sides, like their competitors, and take out options on both is a mystery.

In addition to this plans by Aer Lingus to increase passenger numbers on transatlantic routes seem to have hit a bump even before they have taken off.  

Their new Boeing 747 jumbo jets, which will dwarf their current Boeing 707 aircraft, will only have 372 seats, far less than what was intended when it was first ordered. 

And even if the best case scenario materialises, a rosy future is far from guaranteed, as the national airline’s monopoly of Dublin Airport is an unfair advantage which cannot go on indefinitely. 

Some day soon they must compete with the Americans on an equal basis, and when that day comes it will mean another blow to profits.

This episode of ‘Seven Days’ was broadcast on 2 December 1969. The reporter is Denis Mitchell.