Doubt over future of Aer Lingus All Year Round Transatlantic Services – BREEN

May 17th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has today called on Aer Lingus to outline their future plans for Shannon Airport in light of the commitment given by both US Carriers Delta and Continental to extend their services from the Airport. Deputy Breen is also urging the Government to support a marketing drive which he says is necessary to arrest the dramatic decline in the Airports transatlantic business, which fell by 23 percent down to 422,000 passengers last year.

“The news that Delta is reinstating their all-year round service to New York is very welcome as it provides a link to 45 destinations in the United States for passengers travelling from this Region. The Airline will operate seven days a week during the summer but what is particularly welcome is that they have committed to operate a four day week service during the winter months.”

“Continental have also committed to serving Shannon Airport. They recently announced the addition of four extra services to Newark this summer; and have also committed to retaining all year connectivity to Newark.”

“Now that both US carriers have committed to Shannon Airport, it is time, for our own Airline Aer Lingus to step up to the plate. Though I understand that the Airline’s inaugural plans to use the US Pre Clearance facilities at Shannon experience some teething difficulties on Sunday last, I welcome the fact that they have eventually signed up to use the new state of the art facility for this summer. I am concerned though about the Airline’s long term strategic plans for their transatlantic services out of Shannon.”

“Following the signing of a new franchise agreement between Aer Arann and Aer Lingus which now sees Aer Arann aircraft painted with the new logo “Aer Lingus Regional” and which has already led to development of new routes from both Cork and Dublin to the UK, I understand that Aer Lingus Regional is currently examining the possibility of launching new routes from Shannon probably to Birmingham and Manchester with option to other UK also under consideration.”

“The possibility of developing a domestic Shannon/Dublin route has also been mooted and while this would be a welcome boost especially for the business community in this Region, it should not be used by Aer Lingus to soften the blow for the Airline which may be planning to discontinue its all year transatlantic services from Shannon.”

“It would be ironic if our own Airline, namely, Aer Lingus was to discontinue all-year round transatlantic services from Shannon Airport, while at the same time, two US carriers commit to developing their services.”

“It is crucial at this stage that the Government supports a major marketing drive to assist Shannon Airport in their efforts to address the dramatic decline in the Airports share of transatlantic traffic. Last year, transatlantic traffic fell by 23 percent at the Airport down to 442,000 passengers compare that to 2007 prior to the introduction of Open Skies Shannon’s transatlantic passenger traffic stood at 746,551 passengers.”

“There were many promises made ahead of the introduction of Open Skies, including a €53million marketing fund. It is now time for the Government to live up to those commitment’s and make the necessary marketing funding available to the Airport to help arrest the dramatic decline in its passenger base.”