To ask the Minister for Public Enterprise if industrial promotion agencies have been in touch with her regarding the withdrawal by Aer Lingus of the Shannon-Dublin link due to rationalisation in view of the fact that industrial personnel located in or near Shannon Airport due to the ready availability of Shannon-Dublin-UK and Europe connections.
- Donal Carey.
Answered by the Minister for Public Enterprise
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 19th February, 2002
Ref No: 5869/02
A number of promotional agencies in both the industrial and tourism sectors have been in touch with me and my Department concerning the impact of the downturn in the aviation sector, following the events of 11 September last, on flight services to and from our State airports including the reduction in Aer Lingus services on the Dublin/Shannon route.
Under European air transport liberalisation measures, any air carrier licensed by a European Economic Area (i.e. the 15 Member States of the European Union plus Norway and Iceland) may introduce air services on any route within the EEA without any government or EU controls, subject only to the availability of airport slots at either end of the route and, of course, overall safety considerations. As a result the provision of air services on any particular route is essentially a matter for the commercial judgment of the individual airline.
As the Deputy is aware, Aer Lingus announced a range of cutbacks as part of its Survival Plan, which is aimed at addressing the very difficult situation facing the Company as a result of the dramatic downturn in the global aviation market. Other carriers have also been obliged to implement capacity cuts.
The Shannon/Dublin route is still being serviced by Aer Lingus on a commercial basis albeit on a reduced frequency. In addition a range of new air services to and from Ireland have already commenced or are scheduled to start up this year. These include a new Ryanair service from Shannon to Paris which commenced last week, a Skynet service from Shannon to Dublin and Warsaw which is scheduled to start in the coming weeks, and an Air Canada service from Toronto to Shannon and Dublin to start in June.
I would expect that when the aviation market recovers generally, airlines will review opportunities for re-establishing services which have been lost or reduced in the aftermath of the events of 11th September last.
I am confident that, despite the current difficulties in the aviation sector, the future viability of Shannon Airport is secure and that it will continue to grow and prosper, continuing its valuable contribution to balanced regional development. The Government is committed to maintaining a viable Shannon Airport as well as a viable Aer Lingus.