February 20th, 2008 - abvadmin

Dáil Question

No: 217

*To ask the Minister for Transport the discussion which took place between his Department and the European Commission regarding an application for a PSO on the Shannon Heathrow route; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.

* For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 20th February, 2008.

Ref No: 7169/08

Answered by Minister for Transport

(Noel Dempsey T.D.)


My Department had discussions recently with the EU Commission about air connectivity from the West of Ireland and in particular about the possible imposition of a Public Service Obligation (PSO) on the Shannon-Heathrow route.

The Commission’s position, as clarified following those discussions, is that the EU Regulation governing PSOs is an exception to the general rule of free provision of air services and that any such exception should be considered as restrictively as possible and applied only as far as necessary. In order for a route to be eligible for a PSO, under the Regulation it must not only be vital for the economic development of the region concerned but the existing services must be inadequate. In assessing whether services are adequate, account has to be taken of all existing air transport services, direct and indirect.

In relation to the Shannon to London route, the Commission has noted that there are already regular direct air services between Shannon and the London airports of Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. Allowing for these connections, the Commission has indicated that it would be difficult to justify a PSO on the Shannon to London route.