This deal removes all of the uncertainty around the future of Aer Lingus and is in essence all about connectivity, jobs and growth. The sale of the Government’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus secures the future of the airline and really is the best way forward when you consider what has happened to other such small independent airlines around the world.

The significant concessions secured during the course of detailed negotiations will really benefit Shannon and the Mid-West region. I am very pleased that IAG has stated its willingness to offer commitments in relation to Aer Lingus’ Heathrow slots, in terms of their guaranteed use for the next seven years and also in terms of the slots ownership, over which the Minister for Finance will hold an indefinite veto in any potential sale attempt.

Furthermore, the Shannon-New York and Shannon-Boston routes will be maintained and strengthened.Options to enhance the existing all-business British Airways twice-daily service via Shannon will also be considered. IAG has stated that growth opportunities with tourism and business interests in our Mid-West region will be pursued together with IAG’s US partner, American Airlines.

This is great news for both tourism and business interests in County Clare. We are so dependent on Shannon for tourism access to all that Clare has to offer to visitors from abroad and also as a vital gateway for business and industry.

“The commitments that we have secured from IAG, which will see Aer Lingus continue to serve Heathrow from Shannon on the same basis as the current timetable for at least seven years, will be very positive for tourism and business in Shannon and the wider region.

“Overall this is a good deal for Aer Lingus and for Ireland. The deal envisages that by the end of 2016, up to 150 jobs net new jobs will have been created in Aer Lingus, rising to a new net total of up to 635 jobs by 2020.  Aer Lingus will keep its brand and maintain its headquarters here, with operational decisions in relation to the future of the airline and how it is run to be made by the team here in Ireland.