There is very little we can do to protect the Heathrow Airport slots. At the time of privatisation having a golden share might have been a good idea, but there is nothing to prevent the company from leasing the slots. This could be done by the board at any time. The sale of the slots would just require a special motion.
It is clear that airlines across Europe are consolidating. If Aer Lingus has a buyer in the future, probably the best way to secure access to Heathrow Airport is to have a buyer that wants to feed that airport rather than one that wants to use the slots for another purpose. It seems the British Government is changing its position on a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which means we may find there will be more slots in the future than we thought. Now that British Airways has taken over BMI, I am reassured to see that it is maintaining access to this country for purely commercial reasons. I am pleased to see that the fears in that regard have not materialised.
The issue of Ryanair continuing to own approximately 30% of Aer Lingus comes up in conversations with the CEOs of the two companies, but it is now one for the United Kingdom Competition Commission. There would be greater clarity on the future of Aer Lingus if the United Kingdom Competition Commission were to determine whether Ryanair could continue to remain as a shareholder of Aer Lingus before the Government makes decisions.