Aer Lingus are dead right to pull out of Shannon on a commercial basis, they have a finite amount of resources in particular slots into Heathrow and it is their responsibility to their shareholders that they seek to maximise the profit that can be derive from those resources.
So within those boundaries the Aer Lingus management have been consistent with what one would expect a public company. Those boundaries of course were set by the previous owners who in the unique environment of a privatisation had a chance to lay down some markers to shape the company’s business into the future and indeed by retaining a significant share holding suggested, publicly at least, that they would continue to be active shareholders. Much along the lines of ethical shareholding whereby people use their portfolio to patronise certain types of business over others. The term “Golden Share” was pointedly used by the government over the course of the company being floated. I’m not sure for whom this share is now Golden, it sure ain”t the customers in the West and Mid-West, unless we’re to look to the world of adult entertainment for inspiration.
Fact is that it isn’t the decision that Aer Lingus has made that should be the focus of people’s ire but instead the manner of the privatisation of the airline along with the Heathrow slots which has placed Aer Lingus in this situation. Yet, who has been asking the hard questions along those lines?
We’re had RTe favouring the local FF apparatus in terms of coverage, yet never asking them what they personally had proposed or contributed during the Dail debates on the privatisation of the airline to ensure that the management couldn’t make this type of decision. We’ve had no legal opinion produced by the government that demonstrates why some means to retain control of the Heathrow slots in the state’s hands while floating the rest of the company.
The people of the Mid-West voted for FF in overwhelming numbers despite no significant inward investment into the region over the past number of years. And why are they treated so poorly you might wonder? Basically my view is if you continuously turn the other cheek you end up black and blue. I hate to use the analogy as it may suggest to some that I’m making light of a very serious social issue but much of the Irish electoral population behaves like an abused spouse, making excuses for why they are mistreated, continually turning blind eye to every indiscretion and persisting with a steadfast belief in every half arsed reason for why it happened this time and how next time will be different, and accepting that the other lot would be worse. Or so they are told.
As Fintan O’Toole has pointed out people get what they vote for; the fact that they don’t bother to pay that much attention isn’t really the politicians fault. In a democracy it is the voters who are ultimately the ones pulling the strings.
It isn’t that people are thick just that they think they have more money than sense. What’s the betting that we see an ex-FFer running as an independent in the Mid-West come the next general election on a platform of returning Aer Lingus to Shannon and the neglect of the region? And that we’ll see the promise of one route into Heathrow in time for the 2009 locals.