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Cliff Hanger

Who’d have thought that a largely deserted aircraft hangar at Dublin airport would have dominated the media headlines for best part of three weeks? Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary has been dogging Hangar 6 at Dublin Airport with the ferocity of a disgruntled Rottweiler and if we are to judge by the weekend newspapers he is not finished yet. If nothing else O’Leary will wring maximum embarrassment for the Government out of this story.

In an article that accompanies a picture of O’Leary with Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, in the Sunday Tribune, the Ryanair boss has now imposed a deadline on a decision from the Government on Hangar 6. He is quoted as saying his company’s board will approve the creation of maintenance hubs at two airports outside Ireland at a meeting next month and 300 engineering jobs will go with the hubs. “These jobs are going elsewhere unless the Government gives us Hangar 6. I’m well down the road to moving these jobs offshore.”

“I’ve lots of other governments who want to work with me. If you don’t give me what I want I will go somewhere else,” he says in an ultimatum to beleaguered Tánaiste Mary Coughlan. The lease on the hangar, part of the former SR Technics site at the airport, was taken over by Aer Lingus last year when SR Technics pulled out of Ireland. The Tánaiste has said that the Government cannot force Aer Lingus to give up the building but it would help Ryanair find another location.

“If they change their minds in the next few weeks, they can have these jobs,” O’Leary said. “But we are not building a hangar anywhere else on the airport.” He claimed there was no hidden agenda here – Ryanair would give written undertakings that if the hangar was not used for heavy maintenance it would revert to the Dublin Airport Authority.

The “Hangar 6” story appeared in virtually all of the weekend papers once again – Shane Ross in the Sunday Independent almost matched O’Leary’s chutzpah in mocking the Government’s stance on the issue

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