The privatisation Aer Rianta


The state company which runs Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports is to be broken up if the government get their way. As it is one of the most profitable state firms, what is the reason for this privatisation? Is it good for air travelers, for airport staff, for the ordinary taxpayer, or just for a few rich friends of the government?

Seamus Brennan says it will be good for travelers. The three airports are supposed to compete against each other, and that will "benefit passengers". Are we really supposed to believe that people will travel from Dublin to Shannon to catch a plane for a weekend break to London or Paris?

To aid this supposed 'competition' all the debts of Cork and Shannon will be transferred to Dublin, and from then on those two airports are on their own. To service this debt, we suspect that Dublin Airport will have to sell off the successful Great Southern Hotel group. And rich pals of Brennan and Harney will get their hands on a very profitable business.

The debt also means that Dublin Airport will not have the money to build the second terminal that has been talked about for years. Instead it will be done by the McEvaddy Brothers (whose French villa Mary Harney and Charlie McCreevy holidayed in a couple of years ago), or even Ryanair. This will most likely see a refusal to deal with unions, as happens in Ryanair. And they don't want unions, because they want to pay lower wages and make staff work in worse conditions.

Two competing terminals in the same airport will see even more of an attack on wages in order to be 'competitive'. Each group of workers will be encouraged to compete against each other, to be cheaper.

In Cork and Shannon workers are also in for a rough time. The Shannon stop-over is finished. The two airports will have to sell themselves as low cost operations. Much of their business may well be summer holiday charters, meaning that some staff will only get seasonal contracts. Goodbye to having a job all year.

Whether it is bus, rail or airport workers - the problem is the same. Job security, wage levels, pension entitlements and working conditions will be sacrificed in order to fatten the bank accounts of Bertie's wealthy pals. The way to stop this is for transport workers to unite in action. Free fare days and strikes are the way to go, anything less just isn't taken seriously by the government

Alan MacSimoin