What is the way forward? Firstly, Aer Lingus needs Open Skies. The airline has said there is a Plan B, which, in fairness, it would have to say anyway, because it can't give the message across that everything rested on it. However, it's not unreasonable to say that with the threat from low cost carriers - including O'Leary - it's not going to be plain sailing in that sector; EI must develop long haul. And it must get it right - good quality product, right aircraft, right scheduling - the works.
One thing is expected of the minister: before the airline is privatised, he needs to be in a position to assure potential investors that the Irish/US mini deal can go forward as planned. The EU has already said it's confident about reaching an Open Skies deal before the end of the year and since the Irish/US issue is relatively minor and certainly doesn't impinge on the issue delaying O/S, there's no reason to obstruct them.
There is a rough timetable that needs to be met, which includes the airline being in a position to place its new long haul order by year end. There really is no time to let things get in the way, particularly with regard to Open Skies.
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