The CEO of Limerick Chamber has said that a comprehensive plan needs to be put in place to ensure that Shannon Airport and Mid-West/West of Ireland is primed for the global aviation recovery.
Ms Dee Ryan said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that Aer Lingus may be considering moving aircraft used on Heathrow and transatlantic services at Shannon to UK regional airports to commence transatlantic services from there.
“Connectivity through Shannon has been a key factor in the economic recovery of the Mid West in the years since the ‘08 recession and we need to ensure that Shannon Airport is resourced so it can move quickly to reinstate transatlantic and European connectivity as soon as public health advice on travel changes.
“We call on the airline, the Government and the airport to come together for meaningful discussions to ensure that the best possible solution for everyone is found.
“In tandem with this, and notwithstanding the very serious challenges that the aviation sector face, we believe it is an opportunity to reimagine air connectivity throughout the whole island and to develop new aviation policy in support of regional development and climate action goals.
“We also ask the Minister for Transport Eamonn Ryan to urgently seek out an experienced, strategic and entrepreneurial Chair to lead Shannon Group following the ending of the outgoing chair Rose Hynes’ tenure last weekend.”
Ms Ryan said that Limerick, in particular, has won more foreign direct investment in the last five years or so than it did in any similar period before. In all of those announcements Shannon Airport was cited a key influencer in deciding to set up in the region, she said.
“So much employment in the Mid West relies on route connectivity through Shannon. It’s catchment has over 40% of all foreign direct investment from the US and it is critically important for tourism, given that it is the gateway airport to the Wild Atlantic Way. So, it’s essential that Shannon is supported and primed for recovery when aviation gets going again. We need to begin planning for the recovery that will inevitably come. Aer Lingus’ services at Shannon will be critical to that.
“Therefore, the Chamber believes it is essential that any government subsidies or supports to airlines will be contingent upon commitments from airlines to increase regional route connectivity.”