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Shannon

Losing Heathrow was Shannon’s own fault – Walsh

WHEN Aer Lingus announced it was removing Heathrow slots from Shannon in 2007 it was a hugely controversial move, strongly opposed by business and political interests in Clare. At the time there was speculation that the move was being made due to a secret agreement hammered out by the Government, as part of the peace process. There was little explanation from the airline itself, beyond saying that it was a commercial decision, something that many in Clare didn’t accept given the relatively high numbers that were using it. However, when Willie Walsh came before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications last week he indicated that Aer Lingus took the decision because a competitor, presumably Ryanair, was being offered more favourable terms. Mr Walsh referred to the matter, saying it may be the reason for the current concern about connectivity. “I can understand the concern that has been expressed, particularly the concern expressed in Shannon because of what happened with …

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Five-year Heathrow slots promise on the table

IN the run up to Willie Walsh’s appearance at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications it was noticeable that while IAG were offering to guarantee that the Aer Lingus Heathrow slots would be used on Irish routes, they were making no commitments to serve Shannon or Cork. However that changed last Thursday, as after a little pressure, Mr Walsh confirmed that he was offering guarantees of five years of connectivity for the two airports. Mr Walsh also said that as it stands Shannon or Cork have no such guarantees, and that a takeover actually gives them greater certainty. While some of the Committee members asked him about giving an even longer guarantee, he insisted there is absolutely no way that he will do so. Early in the sitting Mr Walsh rubbished claims that any guarantees on connectivity would not be enforceable. “I have heard people say they are not worth the paper they are not worth the paper …

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Councillors meet Transport Minister over Aer Lingus

A delegation of County Councillors from the West of Ireland met with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Pascal Donohue, T.D., in Dublin this afternoon to express their concerns about the proposed sale of Aer Lingus to IAG. The meeting was organised by Councillor John Crowe, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council who was joined in Leinster House by Damien Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council and Michael Fitzgerald , Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council. While unable to attend this afternoon’s meeting, the Mayors of Limerick, Galway and Kerry have also backed the message delivered to the Minister which outlined that elected members in the West rejected any commitment from IAG that does not “explicitly guarantee” Aer Lingus’ long term commitment to services between Shannon Airport and London Heathrow, as well as transatlantic services. “At today’s meeting we stressed the necessity of securing a 15-year guarantee from IAG in respect of Shannon’s Heathrow slots and service levels as the 5-year guarantee …

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St Pat’s students highlight importance of ports

ST Patrick’s Comprehensive, Shannon has won the inaugural Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC) Transition Year Schools competition. Education Minister, Jan O’Sullivan presented the winners with a €2,000 cheque for their school, while there were also medals and an iPad for each team member. The purpose of the competition was to deepen the understanding of port activity on the Shannon Estuary and its contribution to the economy. It was titled The Importance of Ports in the Mid-West and was open to students in Clare, Limerick and Kerry. The Comprehensive students devised a booklet for primary schools, which gives younger students a greater understanding of the estuary and port company’s activities through games, quizzes and other learning tools. Team member Sinead Quinn said, “We really had no idea how important SFPC is. Many of us live just five miles from Shannon Airport and we never even knew there was a fuel jetty there. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When we …

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Clare senator to quit FG if Aer Lingus share sold

ALREADY contentious, Shannon based Fine Gael Senator Tony Mulcahy has turned up the political heat regarding the potential sale of the State’s share in Aer Lingus, as he has vowed to resign the party whip if the Government does sell to IAG. He made his comments after IAG CEO Willie Walsh addressed the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. Mr Walsh told the Committee that in the event of an IAG takeover, Shannon would get a five-year guarantee of Heathrow connectivity. However, after being quizzed by Senator Mulcahy, he acknowledged that he was not offering any guarantees around the preservation of the Aer Lingus services between Shannon and the US. While Mr Walsh did say that transatlantic services from Shannon have “huge potential” and that the numbers travelling on them are likely to increase in the summertime, this didn’t cut much ice with Senator Mulcahy. In a statement released shortly after the Committee sitting he said, “I cannot support …

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Walsh offers five-year Heathrow guarantee for Shannon

SHANNON and Cork can have guarantees of Heathrow connectivity for five years if IAG buys the State’s share in Aer Lingus, its CEO Willie Walsh pledged at today’s meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications. Clare political figures have expressed concern about the possibility of Shannon losing its vital connectivity to Heathrow in the event of a takeover, but Mr Walsh insisted that the guarantee he is offering is far better than what the airport actually has already. He also claimed that while the concern is at one level understandable, it is actually misplaced, given that the route is profitable. Indeed, he went so far as to say that the current Aer Lingus management could not match the IAG guarantee without drawing the ire of some of the shareholders. While he said IAG is happy to give the guarantees and that there is no reason to pull away from what is a profitable route, he stressed that he will not give …

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11% boost in Shannon Heritage visitor numbers

Shannon Heritage has announced that an 11% increase in visitor numbers was recorded in 2014, offering further evidence of a resurgence in local tourism and indeed in the domestic economy. Shannon Heritage employs more than 300 people during peak season and it operates seven daytime visitor attractions, including Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Craggaunowen, Knappogue Castle and Walled Garden, Dunguaire Castle, the Brian Boru Heritage and Malahide Castle and Gardens. It also has another four evening attractions, with medieval banquets at Bunratty, Knappogue and Dunguaire Castle, as well as a traditional Irish night at Bunratty Folk Park. Overall, they drew 637,000 visitors last year, with the day attractions up by more than 13%, while there are said to have been particular gains from Britain, America and Europe. Indeed, last year was the company’s most successful in terms of visitor numbers since 2007. The single biggest success among the Shannon Heritage operations last year was at King John’s Castle in Limerick, …

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Dooley clashes with Shannon Airport strategy director

THE current Aer Lingus ownership structure gives no guarantees on the provision of Shannon-Heathrow services, group strategy director of Shannon Group, Patrick Edmond said at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communication. Various political interests have called for the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus to be retained, claiming it ensures connectivity for the Clare airport. However, Mr Edmond said that is not the case, pointing out that in 2007, Aer Lingus management, under the same ownership structure as exists now, transferred all of the Heathrow slots serving Shannon to Belfast. While Clare TD Timmy Dooley challenged him, Mr Edmond stood firm on his observations. In his first contribution to the sitting, Mr Edmond said that if the Government does opt to dispose of its 25% holding, it should make sure it gets some guarantees around connectivity. “We would, therefore, expect that any Government decision to sell the State’s Aer Lingus stake to IAG would be conditional on an enforceable …

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No Shannon guarantee no deal, Minister hints

WHILE he didn’t go as far as saying that there is no prospect of a deal with IAG on Aer Lingus in the absence of guarantees for Shannon, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe stressed that connectivity for the Mid-West will be a very important consideration, when he spoke to The Clare Champion. “We’re looking at all of the consequences that the proposed bid could have for connectivity. I’m very much aware of how important connectivity is for the Shannon region and how important Shannon Airport is. I have said throughout all of this that national connectivity and the particular impact on our regions will be vital if a bid comes in,” he said. There have been claims that even if guarantees for Shannon and Cork are built into an eventual agreement between the State and IAG, they will have no real legal standing. Asked if there are any precedents where guarantees have been given on future connectivity, the minister declined to …

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Council calls for rejection of IAG offer

CLARE County Council has passed a motion calling on the Government not to dispose of its 25.1% share in Aer Lingus. At a special meeting of the local authority on Monday afternoon, the members passed the motion unanimously, while efforts are to be made to get other local authorities in the region to take a similar stand. There have been fears that if the proposed IAG takeover of Aer Lingus proceeds that Shannon will lose its Heathrow connectivity and several of the members called on Clare’s Oireachtas members to make sure this does not happen. Councillor Pat McMahon said that a future loss of connectivity would “choke future investment in Clare and the surrounding counties”, while Councillor Cathal Crowe warned that Shannon’s industrial base could be reduced to “large empty warehouses if these slots go”. Calls for the retention of the State’s holding weren’t confined to the Fianna Fáil members, with Fine Gael’s Mary Howard saying she would “be very, …

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