AER Lingus has been operating “pseudoflights” from Shannon, allowing people to book tickets for flights that aren’t actually going to operate, Clare TD Cathal Crowe claimed in the Dáil.
The Meelick man said that the commitment of both Aer Lingus and Ryanair to Shannon is questionable, while he criticised Aer Lingus in particular, for dubious practices. “Aer Lingus is operating pseudoflights out of Shannon. One can book three flights a day, but they will be cancelled and one might have to wait four or five months to get a refund. There is something immoral about that. Aer Lingus is either committed to flying out of Shannon and to having its aircraft there or it is not. I want the Government to intervene so that this will be solidly nailed down for the months ahead.”
Deputy Crowe said that Shannon has been hard hit by Covid-19, while he also raised the replacement of Rose Hynes, who has just concluded her term as chairman of the board of Shannon Group. “Shannon Airport has been disproportionately hit and staff there have been exposed to temporary lay-offs and pay cuts more so than their counterparts in Dublin and Cork airports. Shannon Airport is experiencing a sharp decline in passenger numbers and desperately needs a financial adrenaline shot to ensure it survives the economic uncertainty brought on by Covid19 and comes out the other side in a healthy state.
“The aviation task force reported to the Government on July 7 and there is an urgent need to adopt its recommendations and provide a stimulus package for Shannon Airport. We need a high-profile, highly capable individual to replace Rose Hynes as chair of Shannon Group. I look forward to the Department leading a review of the management structures at the airport.”
Fine Gael Clare TD Joe Carey highlighted the importance of Shannon and called for policy change to help aviation. “Shannon Airport is a key strategic asset for the mid-west, the western region and all of Ireland. Some 40% of the FDI companies in the State are concentrated in the Shannon catchment area. These companies depend on international connectivity. Our entire tourism sector right along the western seaboard depends on in-bound connectivity. Some 140,000 people in the country work in the aviation sector, many of them in Shannon which has 80 aviation-related companies.
“We need to adopt an EU travel policy to bring us in line with other EU states so that we can get the aviation industry up and running again.” Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Hildegarde Naughton said that recent rumblings from both Ryanair and Aer Lingus, about withdrawing services from Shannon, are worrying.
“I am particularly concerned by a recent announcement by Ryanair of the possible closure of its bases at Shannon and Cork, and also media reports that Aer Lingus might relocate aircraft from its base at Shannon. These are commercial decisions of the companies concerned and it should be noted that route schedules for the winter season at Shannon and Cork have not yet been finalised.”