Ryanair’s axed Shannon routes a huge body blow to the region - Breen

September 8th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has today (Wednesday) described the decision by Ryanair to axe a number of routes from Shannon Airport as a huge body blow for the airport and the region.

Deputy Breen has warned that a fresh approach and a major marketing drive is now required if Shannon Airport is not to become a Ghost Town.

“Today’s news has cast a dark cloud over the airport and this region. Axing the Paris route is a particularly hard hit as it leaves the Mid-West with no direct connectivity to Continental Europe.

“This was a popular route and was always well supported. The further reduction by Ryanair of 21% of its Shannon flights coming on top of their earlier decision to abandon 16 routes is very bad news. At the height of its success in Shannon, Ryanair accounted for 60% - or two million - of the airport’s traffic. However, following today’s announcement it will be carrying less than 380,000 passengers per annum. The big challenge now for the Airport Authority is to secure alternative carriers to service these routes. This will not be easy - securing alternative airlines to service routes is never easy but it is particularly difficult in the midst of a recession.

“Ryanair have cited the Travel Tax and increased passenger charges imposed at the airport for its decision. There is no doubt that these decisions, particularly the disastrous Fianna Fáil-imposed travel tax, have sent out all the wrong signals. Shannon Airport is now in crisis with passenger traffic falling by 37% over the past two years and today’s news coming on top of the decision by Aer Lingus to abandon their transat. Axing the Paris route is a particularly hard hit as it leaves the Mid-West with no direct connectivity to Continental Europe.

“This was a popular route and was always well supported. The further reduction by Ryanair of 21% of its Shannon flights coming on top of their earlier decision to abandon 16 routes is very bad news. At the height of its success in Shannon, Ryanair accounted for 60% - or two million - of the airport’s traffic. However, following today’s announcement it will be carrying less than 380,000 passengers per annum. The big challenge now for the Airport Authority is to secure alternative carriers to service these routes. This will not be easy - securing alternative airlines to service routes is never easy but it is particularly difficult in the midst of a recession.

“Ryanair have cited the Travel Tax and increased passenger charges imposed at the airport for its decision. There is no doubt that these decisions, particularly the disastrous Fianna Fáil-imposed travel tax, have sent out all the wrong signals. Shannon Airport is now in crisis with passenger traffic falling by 37% over the past two years and today’s news coming on top of the decision by Aer Lingus to abandon their transatlantic services for the first three months of next years.

“Over a decade of broken Fianna Fáil Government promises has failed Shannon Airport. A €53 million marketing fund which was promised in the wake of ‘Open Skies’ never materialised and Ministers have consistently supported policies which have exposed the airport to having all of its eggs in one basket. Alongside this, the lack of decision making in relation to the Lynx Cargo project is jeopardising the development of a Cargo Hub at the airport.

“In the absence of clear and decisive leadership and support from the Fianna Fáil Government, it is time now people in the region to take the initiative and for a fresh approach. We need to start thinking outside of the box. Shannon Airport is losing money and new and innovative ways of sustaining traffic at the airport must be devised.
There are a number of initiatives which I believe could assist the Airport to arrest the decline:

The €10 Air Travel Tax must be abandoned immediately.

Funding must be allocated for a major marketing drive.

All those who have an interest in the future viability of the airport must come together. When this Group is set up they should have an input into the SAA Board and should be given a clear timeframe to come up with proposals.

“Shannon Airport is the key economic driver in this region and quite clearly the old ways of doing business in the current climate are just not working.”