Transport Minister has dithered for far too long and has effectively left both Shannon and Cork Airports in limbo – BREEN.

November 27th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Transport and Marine Minister Noel Dempsey has confirmed by way of parliamentary question to Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen that “the current state of the aviation sector and the economy generally” will be taken into account before any decision is made to proceed with the break-up of the three Airports at Shannon, Cork and Dublin. Deputy Breen has consistently urged the Transport Minister and his cabinet colleagues to ensure that Shannon Airport’s future operational and financial requirements were addressed prior to any final decision on separation. Deputy Breen is now calling on Minister Dempsey to clarify the situation once and for all claiming that the Minister “dithered for far too long” and “has effectively left both Shannon and Cork Airports in limbo.

 

“In my view it was foolhardy to proceed with the break-up in this changing economic environment and particularly in the absence of an independent analysis of the business plans submitted by all three Airports.”

 

Shannon Airport has witnessed a significant drop in passenger numbers this year. Passenger figures for first three-quarters of 2008 are down 13 per cent overall with transatlantic traffic down 24 per cent to the end of September. The loss of the Heathrow route has seen traffic from London down 16 per cent and overall passenger figures at Shannon are expected to show a decrease of over 10% at the end of the year. The decline in the number of Overseas Trips to Ireland confirms this trend with the number of overseas visitors to Ireland down by more than 10 per cent in September.”

 

“While the recent announcement regarding the extension to the US Customs and Border Protection is very welcome I have concerns regarding the imposition of the new Air Travel tax. My fear is that this tax will negatively impact on the Airport with Ryanair already indicating that 60% of their flights next winter may be withdrawn from Shannon.”

 

Shannon Airport is the key driver of economic development in this Region and any decision on the Airport’s future must take cognisance of this role.”

 

“The break-up of the three Airports has been a complete fiasco. Allowing the Dublin Airport Authority to become judge and jury in divesting the assets to the two other Airports was never going to work. In Shannon’s case there is the whole debate about the future ownership of Aer Rianta International for instance.”

 

“The Minister must clarify this situation as soon as possible as he has dithered for far too long and in the absence of a decision he has effectively left both Shannon and Cork Airports in limbo. If the break-up is going to be parked the Minister must ensure however than Shannon Airport retains autonomy over its own future development in terms of accessing finance and developing new routes.

 

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 25th November, 2008.

 

 Answered by the Minister for Transport 

 

REPLY

The State Airports Act, 2004 provides the framework for the establishment of Shannon and Cork as independent airports. Under the Act, both the Minister for Finance and I will have to be satisfied as to the state of operational and financial readiness of the three airports before any vesting of assets can take place.

I have already received the Cork and Shannon business plans and I expect shortly to receive a finalised commentary on those plans by the DAA when they submit their own plan under the Act.

Following consideration of the business plans and the views of the three boards, and after consultation with the Minister for Finance, I will bring the matter to Government, taking account of the current state of the aviation market and the economy generally.