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2007
Shannon Airports Transatlantic Business
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24 October 2007

To ask the Minister for Transport and the Marine if the recent completion of the EU/US Open Skies agreement will mean a reduction in direct US services from Shannon Airport; if there is a reduction in the number of US direct services for the winter period October 2007 to March 2008 compared to the winter period from October 2006 to March 2007; if he expects a reduction in the number of scheduled US direct services through Shannon Airport for the summer of 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Pat Breen.

 

*    For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th October, 2007.

Ref No:   25699/07

 

To ask the Minister for Transport and the Marine the steps he will take to protect Shannon Airports transatlantic business following the recent decision by Aer Lingus to end the Shannon Heathrow service.

- Pat Breen.

 

*    For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 24th October, 2007.

Ref No:   25728/07

 

Answered by the Minister for Transport

(Noel Dempsey)

 

REPLY

I propose to take Questions 188  and 189 together.

From 30 March 2008, the transatlantic aviation market will be fully liberalised. American and European airlines will be free to develop and operate transatlantic services on a fully commercial basis, without restrictions which persist under the existing system of bilateral agreements.

Experience has shown that the liberalisation of aviation markets results in a greater level of competition among airlines, lower fares and the development of a wider range of services. I understand that several studies have projected that the Open Skies agreement will lead to considerable economic benefits for Ireland, for the business sector, for the tourism industry and for the air transport industry itself. 

For Winter 07 there will be 28 direct flights and 7 indirect flights between Shannon and the US each week.  I understand that Aer Lingus will operate daily direct flights to Boston and New York and daily flights to Chicago via Dublin. It is also understood that Continental will continue to operate a daily service to Newark while Delta will continue to operate a daily service to New York. American Airlines has withdrawn its daily Chicago service this winter and it is understood that they will not be operating out of Shannon next year. Delta will not operate the Shannon - Atlanta service for Winter 2007/8 but it is envisaged that this service will recommence for Summer 2008.

The summer 2008 schedule of direct services for Shannon/US routes has not yet been finalised. 

I understand that Aer Lingus is putting into place an agreement with US carrier JetBlue allowing passengers to/from Shannon to interconnect with services to/from over 50 cities in the US, Caribbean and Mexico. 

It is understood that Shannon Airport is making every effort to ensure that year-round transatlantic services are maintained. I would be confident that the Airport Authority, with the continued support of business and tourism interests in the region, can respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by Open Skies.

It should also be borne in mind that the new direct gateway services by Aer Lingus from Washington, San Francisco and Orlando and the potential for additional services by US carriers, provide the opportunity to substantially grow more North American business to Ireland. Traditional travel patterns and the attractiveness of the tourism product in the West, suggest that over 50% of such incremental business will involve visits to Ireland's Western regions.