Aer Arann does not rule out opening discussions on Transatlantic Feeder Services from Shannon Airport – BREEN.

July 28th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen said that he is encouraged by the response of Garry Cullen, Managing Director, Aer Arann when he appeared before last weeks Transport Committee Meeting at which he did not rule out opening discussions on setting up a transatlantic feeder service from Shannon Airport when he stated that “we will certainly talk to US airlines and explore opportunities”.

Garry Cullen, Managing Director, Aer Arann appeared before last weeks Dail’s Transport Committee meeting at which Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen pressed him on his future plans for Shannon Airport.

During his appearance before the Transport Committee Deputy Breen put it the Aer Arann Managing Director that he it would be a “worthwhile exercise for Aer Arann to discuss the possibility of offering hub-to-hub air feeder services into Shannon Airport”. Deputy Breen asked if Aer Arann would “be prepared to engage in discussions with some of the America airlines which serve Shannon” with a view to exploiting such an opportunity particularly “in light of the increases in fuel prices and in the context of the open skies policy.” Deputy Breen went on to say that Aer Arann might enjoy “greater success if it became involved in an arrangement to provide air feeder services to one of the American airlines.”

Deputy Breen also asked Garry Cullen if he would consider offering services between Shannon and Amsterdam.

In response while Garry Cullen said that he could not provide “a clear answer in respect of Amsterdam”, he did say that a “Shannon-Amsterdam service with the turbo-prop aircraft would not be a good product and that “in our medium term plans to use jet aircraft now pushed out two years, the Shannon-Amsterdam route would have some attractions”.

“However, Deputy Breen said “I am encouraged by Garry Cullens response to my suggestion of a transatlantic feeder service at Shannon. He did not rule out discussions with US Carriers. He outlined the significant changes which have been introduced to their reservations and distributions system which allowed for the recent link up with Aer Lingus from Cork and said that “now that we can do it we will certainly talk to US airlines and explore opportunities”.”

“Maintaining transatlantic traffic is a huge challenge for Shannon Airport in an open skies environment and we have seen a fall in transatlantic passenger figures from 325,438 in 2007 to 262,858 for the first six months of this year alone. The recent announcement of an Aer Arann and Aer Lingus Interline Agreement which allows passengers from Cork connect directly to Aer Lingus transatlantic services is also challenging for Shannon and we must looking at exploiting every opportunity. I am encouraged by Garry Cullen’s response to my proposal and I will be continuing to pursue my proposal with Aer Arann”.

See underneath extracts from Transport Committee Meeting – 16th July 2008.



I am interested in competition on regional routes. I wish to focus first on Cork Airport. Mr. Cullen referred to the type of aircraft used by Aer Arann. Ryanair – his company’s main competitor – mostly uses Boeing 737-800s. Such aircraft are not suitable for internal flights, particularly when one considers that profits are governed by load factors. Aer Arann uses ATR aircraft, which are extremely efficient and, given that they only take 50 to 70 passengers, which are much easier to fill. In addition, there are no stipulations with regard to where people wish to sit on the aircraft and there are no baggage charges. In such circumstances, does Aer Arann not have a major advantage in respect of domestic flights? Most airline companies are reducing the size of aircraft they use, particularly on short haul routes.

Mr. Cullen stated that Aer Arann would be prepared to talk to other airlines – Irish or otherwise – in respect of offering feeder air services. Deputy Dooley inquired about Shannon and Mr. Cullen stated that it was not profitable for Aer Arann to operate there because it was obliged to compete with Aer Lingus’s transatlantic service. The fact that Aer Arann did not base an aircraft at Shannon meant that its flights arrived at a much earlier time. This did not suit people who wanted to connect to European flights or people who wanted to fly late at night to Dublin and spend an entire day here doing business.

Would Aer Arann be prepared to engage in discussions with some of the American airlines – Continental, Delta and US Air – which serve Shannon? In light of increases in fuel prices and in the context of the open skies policy, these carriers would not be prepared to serve airports at two destinations. It would be a worthwhile exercise for Aer Arann to discuss with these airlines the possibility of offering hub-to-hub air feeder services into Shannon Airport. Shannon has a great deal going for it, particularly since the facilities there were upgraded. Charges at the airport were reviewed and operations there have been streamlined.

Aer Arann offered services out of Shannon on two previous occasions. In light of the additional costs involved with basing aircraft at the airport, its efforts did not prove successful. It might enjoy greater success if it became involved in an arrangement to provide air feeder services to one of the American airlines.

Mr. Cullen referred to the success of some of Aer Arann’s European operations. Some of the routes in question terminate in holiday destinations and the business relating to them is seasonal in nature. Mr. Cullen indicated that the company is satisfied with the success of its flights to Amsterdam, which is a hub for KLM and Air France. Would Aer Arann be prepared to consider offering services between Shannon and Amsterdam, particularly in the context that CityJet’s service between Shannon and Paris – on which smaller aircraft are used – has proven extremely successful?

Mr. Garry Cullen:

We cannot provide a clear answer in respect of Amsterdam because of the unique arrangement that exists on the route. The aircraft on the Amsterdam route are owned and operated by another company. We merely sell the tickets. They operate the route and we sell the seats. Until we understand their disposition and whether they will keep the aircraft operating, we cannot make a decision. Last winter they leased the aircraft to operators in Scandinavia. We do not know if they will be available. A Shannon-Amsterdam service with the turbo-prop aircraft would not be a good product. In our medium term plans to use jet aircraft, now pushed out two years, the Shannon-Amsterdam route would have some attractions.