EITHIOPIAN AIRLINES SEEKING DUBLIN STOP-OVER – The Government has taken the first step towards a potentially controversial deal with Ethiopian Airlines that would allow the carrier to stop at Dublin airport to collect passengers while en route to Los Angeles, reports The Irish Times.

Ethiopian’s chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam recently confirmed that the airline – Africa’s largest – is considering launching a service from Addis Ababa to Los Angeles that would use Dublin as a stopover and has already secured rights from the aviation regulator.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport confirmed at the weekend that its staff have “initialled” a bi-lateral agreement with the Ethiopian authorities as a first step to allowing the airline to fly into Dublin airport but the Minister has yet sign off on the deal.

He added that the airline had yet to apply for so-called “fifth-freedom rights” which would entitle it to collect passengers at the Irish airport and fly them on to Los Angeles.


STEADY RISE IN CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY – The Irish Examiner reports that activity in the construction sector expanded for the 10th month in a row led by residential building, according to the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index.

Employment also increased for the 10th month in a row in June, although at the lowest rate since January.

House prices in urban areas, particularly south Dublin, have soared in the past year due to a lack of supply. According to the ESRI, there is a demand for new housing units of between 20,000-25,000 until 2030.

According to the latest Ulster Bank PMI, there are signs of a sustained uptick in the residential sector. Overall, it recorded a reading of 59.9 in June, down slightly from 60.2 in May but still signalling a sharp expansion of activity in the sector.

Activity has risen continuously since September 2013.


MILANO CHAIN TO BE SOLD TO CHINESE FIRM  - The Irish Independent reports that one of the country's biggest Italian restaurant chains is to be sold to a Chinese firm as part of a €1.1bn deal.

The parent company of Milano's said it had agreed terms to sell it and its international brand Pizza Express to China's Hony Capital for £900m (€1.1bn).

Among the best known restaurants in Ireland, Milano has more than a dozen outlets across the provinces.

The deal is not expected to effect the immediate future of Milano's, which has been bought as a going concern.

The firm is owned by Gondola Group, and is part of the wider Pizza Express chain which has 436 restaurants across the UK and another 68 around the world. The transaction is the largest in the European restaurant sector in the past five years.