New Aer Lingus CEO must build on goodwill for the Airline in the Region and develop their route network from Shannon Airport – BREEN.

April 10th, 2009 - Pat Breen
Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen commenting following the news of the departure of Dermot Mannion from Aer Lingus said that “Dermot Mannion’s tenure as Aer Lingus Chief Executive was tarnished by the Airlines decision to axe the London Heathrow Route from the Airport last year. Deputy Breen said that he will be encouraging the new CEO to build on the Airline’s goodwill which has been restored in this Region following the restoration of the Heathrow service last week and to maintain and develop their route network from Shannon Airport”.

“Dermot’s Mannion did not endear himself to the people of the Mid-West Region. The manner in which he mishandled the entire Shannon/Heathrow Debacle will not be easily forgotten particularly when he only make a very brief pit stop at Shannon to appraise his staff of the decision before flying on to Belfast.”

“While he did preside over the return of the Heathrow Service recently many would say that his hand was forced by the Ryanair’s take over bid.

“The entire global aviation is in freefall at present but there are still many opportunities for growth and if there is a clear commitment from Aer Lingus to expand and develop their route network from Shannon Airport, Opportunities will arise even in this difficult environment.”

“Aer Lingus passenger’s numbers continued to show a decline in March with their long haul services particularly under pressure. In the latest bulletin from Aer Lingus they admit that the Airline carried 7 per cent less in March 2009, 835,000 compared to 898,000 in the same month last year. The Airlines long-haul traffic declined by 14.6 per cent over the same period.”

“The release of the latest CSO Overseas Travel (today) confirms this downward spiral in transatlantic traffic with a 19.9% reduction in the number of visitors from the US to Ireland between February 2009 and February 2008.”

“While it will be a very challenging time for any new Aer Lingus Chief Executive it also gives the Airline to review their operations to look at fresh new ideas. In this context I will be looking for a meeting with the new CEO at the earliest opportunity. I want Aer Lingus give a clear commitment to Shannon Airport and to maintain and grow their route network from the Airport. The return of the Shannon Heathrow Service is very welcome but they have added no additional short-haul routes to their network. In terms of long-haul while the Chicago direct flight is back on track for the summer schedule I want to see the Airline investigate other commercial opportunities from Shannon.”

“The Government also has an important role to play in assisting Airlines like Aer Lingus and Ryanair to grow their business at Shannon. That is why I vehemently opposed the introduction of an Air Travel Tax as I believe it will be counterproductive. If the Tourism Industry in the Mid-West Region is to capitalise on its advantages then the funding must be provided by Government to market Shannon’s unique selling point namely the availability of full pre clearance facility at the Airport.”