Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to thank Etihad Airways and the Dublin Airport Authority for inviting me to join with them in marking the launch of Etihad Airways new Abu-Dhabi - Dublin service. I am delighted to be here this morning.
This is one of my first aviation-related engagements since my recent appointment as Minister for Transport. As such, I am particularly pleased that it is for the launch of such an exciting new venture. This new route is an important development not only for Irish aviation, but also for the relationship between Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. I believe it will strengthen the strong ties that already exist between Ireland the the United Arab Emirates.
In January this year, the Taoiseach led one of the largest ever overseas Irish trade missions to the United Arab Emirates. Almost 120 companies from all over Ireland participated. It is clear that the region will be an important market for Ireland in the future and the new service of Etihad Airways will further strengthen and develop business and tourism links between Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.
As an island nation on the periphery of Europe efficient air links are of crucial importance to Ireland from an economic, social and cultural point of view.
Against this backdrop, the Government's policy has been to encourage the establishment of as many routes as possible both into and out of Ireland. Ireland has a very broad range of air service agreements with other countries, including the United Arab Emirates and that Agreement has facilitated the opening up of this new route between Dublin and Abu-Dhabi.
In line with our policy of facilitating the expansion of services into and out of Ireland, we will continue to take a favourable view on any request for new air services that will improve our business and tourism links with this region and the rest of the world.
The commencement of this new route will benefit tourism on the whole island of Ireland. It will offer even greater choice for travellers from the growing markets of the Middle East, Asia, Australasia and South Africa to come and enjoy a visit to Ireland and facilitate the expansion of business links between Ireland the rest of the world. It is also an example of the way in which the route network at Dublin will develop in the future in an increasingly globalised economy.
The Government has recognised this and has given the clear policy direction to ensure the necessary development needed here at Dublin Airport. The Dublin Airport Authority has prepared a comprehensive development plan for the airport which will ensure that Dublin has the capacity to facilitate the development of a growing long haul network as well as the comprehensive European network which it now has. In this context, developments at the airport will include extensive new terminal facilities to cater for diverse airline and passenger needs, additional pier facilities and aircraft parking stands, both wide bodied and narrow bodied stands, all of which will facilitate the further development of long haul routes as well as the European network.
I am delighted that Etihad Airways has chosen Dublin as a new destination as it develops its global network. I have no doubt that the route will be very successful for Etihad and will increase the strong ties that already exist between Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.
I wish you every success.