Feb 2015 - Irish Hotels Federation

Joint Committee on Transport and Communications
3rd February 2015
- Presentation from the Irish Hotels Federation -
Chairman, Deputies and Senators. Thank you for inviting the Irish Hotels Federation to address the
joint Committee on Transport and Communications on this critical national issue.
The Irish Hotels Federation, founded in 1937, is the national representative organisation of the hotel
and guesthouse sector in Ireland. We are a key stakeholder in Irish tourism.
Tourism is one of Ireland’s largest indigenous industries and provides almost 205,000 jobs –
equivalent to 11 per cent of total employment in the country. It accounts for almost 4 per cent of
gross national product. With 54,000 people directly employed by hotels and guesthouses across
every county and town, the hotels sector is playing a critical role in contributing to recovery in the
tourism industry and the wider economy.
We believe the potential sale of Aer Lingus would have enormous implications for the tourism
industry and indeed the wider economy given the unique challenges Ireland faces as a small island
on the edge of the Atlantic with no passing footfall.
Maintaining strong levels of connectivity with our international markets is of vital importance. As
such, the IHF has serious concerns about the sale of Aer Lingus and the prospect of its Heathrow
slots being re-allocated to other routes down the line.
Let there be no doubt about what is at stake. Any agreement that fails to safeguard these slots for
Irish routes would have serious consequences for the longterm prospects of our national tourism
product. The future loss of these slots is a very real risk for Ireland given the constraints currently
faced by Heathrow Airport, which is now at full capacity.
In light of the critical strategic importance of these slots, it is imperative that the Government
secures contractual rights to determine their use as part of any potential sale of the State's interest
in the airline. In this regard, we support the recent commitment from the Government to seek a
‘permanent and cast-iron guarantee’ in respect of connectivity for Shannon, Cork and Dublin
The temporary, five-year arrangement proposed by IAG is entirely unacceptable and needs to be a
permanent commitment if any sale is to be considered by the Government.
From a regional perspective, the Shannon and Cork Heathrow slots are crucial in terms of providing
tourism and business links directly into the South and West of Ireland. The figures speak for
themselves: in 2014, passenger numbers between Shannon Airport and Heathrow stood at 233,000
while passengers between Cork and Heathrow stood at 400,000.
The loss of the slots would be detrimental for national tourism, business employment and the ability
of the West and South regions to attract multi-national investment and sustain economic growth.
Given the stakes involved, it is imperative that the Government use its shareholding to protect these
valuable slots in the national interest. Any other course of action would be short-sighted.
Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to address this Joint Oireachtas Committee. We look
forward to addressing any matters that the members may wish to raise.