Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has said that the current “blitz” by Dublin Airport Authority towards passengers from the Mid-West reflects the “clear intention by it to monopolise air travel and that would be hugely detrimental for balanced regional development”.
Deputy Carey said that analysis carried out by him of the on-going Dublin Airport led local media advertising campaign, suggests that it is engaged in an “advertising onslaught concentrated on Clare, Limerick and Galway, in a deliberate attempt by the DAA to passenger grab across the region.”
“When is enough not enough for DAA?”, he said, as he urged the public to show its support for the local airport by ‘flying Shannon’.
Deputy Carey said the DAA grab must be addressed and particular measures put in place to support and promote Shannon and airports outside Dublin, starting with 5th Freedom Rights applications being ring-fenced for Shannon and other airports to ensure the DAA desire to monopolise is prevented.
“In the last month alone the spending by Dublin Airport on media in the Shannon catchment, according to rate cards, would be well in excess of €150,000. They have taken one and two page adverts, amounting to a bonanza for local media in Clare, Tipperary and Galway and have put foreign holidays up for grabs on local radio. From my research, there was no comparable spend by them anywhere else in the country.
“The campaign may be focussed on destinations that Shannon does not have direct flights to but it has also looked at destinations Dublin does not fly direct to. But what really strikes me here is the scale of the campaign. It is unprecedented from what I can see and certainly is not focused on any other part of the country. It’s rather ironic also that Dublin Airport never put anything like the same level of funding into Shannon campaigns when it operated Shannon.
“I don’t begrudge local media this valuable income but that is the only plus out of this. Otherwise it clearly points to one thing and that is that Dublin Airport is intent on eating every other airport up, starting with Shannon. Given Dublin Airport’s scale, it poses the question, ‘when is enough not enough’.
“If anything, this absolutely reaffirms that Government policy to make Shannon independent was the right one as it would have been wound down by stealth otherwise. Now we need to step up to the mark again and prevent Dublin Airport doing this by another means. This also applies to other regional airports and I say again when is enough not enough for the DAA? This issue needs to be immediately addressed as it will feed into a two tier economy and it must be stopped.”
Deputy Carey said he intends to raise this issue with the current Minister for Transport and will make loosening the stranglehold the DAA is trying to put on Irish aviation a priority of his in the next Government, once re-elected.
“We need to review what’s happening in air travel in Ireland. The majority of people flying in to this country to holiday in the West of Ireland come through Dublin. This does not make sense so, as an absolute priority, we need to look at how the country is marketed, how airports are marketed, so that people are flown into the region they want to holiday in.
“I am also proposing that we ring-fence Fifth Freedom Rights, which allow airlines departing other airports land and take on passengers here before continuing to their final destination, for Shannon. Dublin has recently secured such an arrangement with Ethiopian Airlines but that type of business should really be for Shannon as, unlike Dublin, it is uncongested and can offer the airline a better experience. It also has US Pre-clearance, which is an imperative really for this type of business so it’s either Dublin or Shannon and for me it has to be Shannon, for any number of reasons.”