TD Breen meets Air France boss to push for more Irish routes

March 19th, 2010 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael Deputy Foreign Affairs Spokesman Pat Breen TD has today (Thursday) met the Aer Lingus/KLM chief executive in Paris to encourage the airline to open new routes from Ireland, particularly from Shannon Airport.

Deputy Breen held a one-to-one meeting with Air France/KLM Pierre Henri Gourgeon, where he promoted the advantage of Shannon Airport’s new Pre Clearance facilities for US-bound flights.

The Clare TD, who is currently drafting a report on civil aviation for the Council of Europe’s Committee on Economic Affairs, also met Peter Kirk, Deputy Executive Secretary of the European Civil Aviation Conference.

“The Irish aviation sector has great potential for an airline like Air France/KLM. In particular, Shannon’s Pre Clearance facility for US-bound flights is a great commercial opportunity for any airline.

“British Airways is enjoying great success with its London City to New York service. This service stops twice daily at Shannon Airport in order to clear US Customs and Immigration. I believe a similar opportunity exists for Air France on its route from Paris Charles de Gaulle to New York

“I also suggested that CityJet, the Air France subsidiary, should reintroduce its profitable and successful service from Shannon to Paris.

“A stronger relationship between Shannon Airport and Air France could benefit both parties. Shannon itself is facing serious challenges. Ryanair is due to axe 18 destinations, Aer Lingus is conducting a review of its services, and threatening to axe its Aer Lingus maintenance base with the potential loss of 70 jobs. I am also concerned that Aer Lingus may cut back on its transatlantic services from Shannon. That is why I believe Air France offers many opportunities for the airport and the region.”