Breen questions urges Tourism Minister to take action on Shannon Airport.

March 31st, 2010 - Pat Breen

 The Minister stated airlines contribute to the success in attracting tourists.  Today is a black day for Ryanair services at Shannon Airport because this is the final day of the five-year contract Ryanair had with the airport authority.  The company brought in more than 2 million passengers a year during the initial years of the contract, although that number had reduced to 1 million a year.  As a result, only a fraction of the numbers who used to travel to the west will pass through the airport.  Does the Minister realise that five years ago 30 destinations were served by Shannon Airport whereas today only ten destinations are served?  Will she bring together the main tourism interests in the region, in particular, the Shannon Airport Authority and Shannon Development, to redouble their efforts to fill the void left by Ryanair?  From tomorrow onwards, the departure halls in the airport will be empty unless the Government does something.

 

   Deputy Mary Hanafin: The Shannon Airport catchment area economic and tourism development plan is designed to support the region.  A preclearance facility has been approved at the airport and it can be extended to cater for other airlines.  British Airways and United Airlines flights out of London stop at the airport to avail of the facility.

 

   Deputy Pat Breen: I refer to short haul services.

 

   Deputy Mary Hanafin: This new initiative might facilitate private jet users and so on to travel to Ireland and stay.  It has great potential.  I have received a request for a meeting from Shannon Development and I am happy to meet its representatives to discuss the various issues.

 

   Deputy Pat Breen: Will the Minister consider bringing together the various tourism interests in the region?  This is serious issue and I do not raise it for the sake of it.  The airport is almost empty every day after 11 a.m.  It is facing a bleak future and I ask the Minister to seriously examine tourism in the west, particularly in the context of short haul routes.  

 

   Deputy Mary Hanafin: I am sure the implementation of the plan will help in some regards but I am happy to sit down with the representatives of Shannon Development to discuss the potential for the area.