I propose to take Questions Nos. 663 and 664 together.
The aviation industry is a key enabler of economic growth and Government policy is aimed at facilitating the industry's continued development. As an island, Ireland's international connectivity with our trading partners is particularly important. Historically, the policy has been in favour of having at least two major Irish airlines competing with each other. This policy has served us well and the competitive dynamic between Aer Lingus and Ryanair has been good for Irish consumers and Irish connectivity. The Government wants to see continued vibrant competition in the market and does not believe that a merger of Aer Lingus and Ryanair would help achieve this.
However, increasing consolidation in the airline industry, both in Europe and globally, is likely to have implications for Irish airlines and indeed the number of foreign airlines operating in the Irish market in the future. This issue is one of the many issues raised in the consultation document issued by my Department in the context of the review of aviation policy that is currently underway. A total of 74 submissions have been received in response to the consultation document from a wide range of interests. The submissions are being reviewed and the intention is that a draft aviation policy statement will be issued before the end of the year, which will provide a further opportunity for stakeholder input before the adoption of the new policy document in early 2014.