Shannon Airport the big loser in Open Skies – BREEN.

January 29th, 2009 - Pat Breen
Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen commenting following the publication of the 2008 end of year traffic figures for Shannon Airport said that “Many commentators and experts including the authors of the Dukes/Sorresson Report warned that Shannon Airport would be the big loser in an Open Skies Scenario and this is reflected in the latest set of figures. The Government must now put the necessary supports in place to assist this Region to combat the worst effects of this recession. A coordinated Tourism Strategy is what is required and weeks after the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey T.D. announced that the separation of the Airports was put on hold there is still no sign of the Minister putting in place the structure or resources to allow local management at Shannon to get on with the job of steering the Airport through these turbulent times.”
“The downward spiral in passenger figures at Shannon Airport reflect what commentators and experts including the authors of the Dukes/Sorresson Report warned would happen prior to the implementation of the Open Skies Agreement; Shannon Airport would be the big loser. The Airport has witnessed a decline in transatlantic traffic of 23%. over the past 12 months.”“Of course the withdrawal of the Aer Lingus Shannon/Heathrow Service this time last year has also impacted on the Airports overall figures with 3.1 million passengers travelling through Shannon in 2008 compared to 3.62 passengers in 2007.”
“2009 will be a very challenging year for the Airport, however, there are some positive signs. The Shannon/Heathrow Service is to be restored and Agreement has been reached between the US and Ireland which will see the provision of full US Pre-Clearance facilities according to the Transport Minster become available at the Airport in July.”
“While these are positive signs the global economic crisis will take its toll on Aviation and Tourism related business as well as other areas of the economy. The Government has a role to play here in assisting this Region to combat the worst affects of this recession. A Coordinated Tourism Strategy is required and the Government must give this Strategy the necessary support whether it is in terms of extra marketing funding or exploring and encouraging Airlines like Aer Lingus to extend their services further from the Airport in 2009.”
“It is now several weeks since the Transport Minister Noel Dempsey T.D. announced that the separation of the Airports was to be put on hold but yet there is still no sign of the Minister putting in place the necessary structure and resources to allow local Shannon Management to fully exploit the opportunities that may arise.”
“This is typical of course of this Government who have sat idly by for the past number of months while all around them an economic crisis looms.