To ask the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the plans by Aer Lingus or other carriers to close down existing services or open up new air routes in the future with particular reference to both long and short haul services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Bernard J. Durkan.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 8th May, 2008.
Ref No: 17797/08
Answered by the Minister for Transport
The aviation sector in Europe is fully liberalised and European Community airlines are free to operate services on intra-community routes on a fully commercial basis in response to consumer demand, without any restrictions or barriers.
In the transatlantic market, the First Stage EU-US Open Skies Agreement is now being provisionally applied and the way is now clear for all European Community carriers to fly between any point in the EU and any point in the US. Negotiations on a second stage agreement, with a view to achieving further liberalisation of traffic rights and closer regulatory co-operation between the EU and the US, will commence in Ljubljana on 15/16 May 2008.
In respect of other long haul routes, my Department seeks to facilitate the continued creation and sustainable growth of competitive air links through the development and application of bi-lateral Air Services Agreements with third countries. An agreement with Canada was concluded last year and consultations with Egypt are ongoing with a view to commencing formal negotiations in the near future. Formal requests from both India and Pakistan for new air service agreements with Ireland are also anticipated.
Priorities for the amendment of existing bilaterals or the development of new bilaterals are continually being assessed in consultation with the DAA.