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Growing concern over possible transfer of Aer Lingus aircraft from Shannon

SHANNON Airport looks set for yet another body blow following reports that Aer Lingus are considering moving their transatlantic services to the United Kingdom.

Aer Lingus have a number of aircraft based in Shannon and two of them are A321, which is a narrow bodied aircraft with long range with a smaller capacity than bigger A330.

They are ideal for long haul flights from Shannon as they are cheaper to run than other aircraft and can take smaller numbers of passengers.

It understood some English airports have indicated they are interested in hosting these aircraft and developing transatlantic services from these locations.

A Shannon Group spokesperson said the group is in ongoing discussions with Aer Lingus regarding the resumption of its Heathrow and transatlantic operations.

“These long established services have been hugely successful and their resumption is critical for business and tourism across western and southern regions.

“These and other services have been suspended due to advice against non-essential travel and their resumption is among the key recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation recovery, which included a call for a stimulus package for airports in the regions to encourage the rebuilding of traffic.

“The findings of this report must be implemented urgently so that these services are underpinned and we can begin the recovery with our airlines partners in line with Government objectives on re-building connectivity and capacity in the regions,” he said.

Deputy Michael McNamara has called on the government to consider seeking an equity share in Aer Lingus as the German government has done with Lufthanasa in return for a guarantee of regional connectivity.

“It is now sadly clear that the state should have retained a shareholding in Aer Lingus,” he said.

The Scariff-based part-time farmer previously lost the party whip while he was a Labour Deputy when he voted against the government over the sale of its stake in Aer Lingus.

Coming shortly after the announced deadline for the Voluntary Severance Package (VSS), Clare Deputy Anne-Wynne described reports of a withdrawal  as yet another massive blow for Shannon Airport.

“Minister Ryan needs to ensure that his review into the operation in the Shannon Group is finalised without delay and he needs to ensure a comprehensive plan is put in place to ensure the future viability of the airport in Shannon,” she said.

Deputy Cathal Crowe called on Aer Lingus management to clarify their future commitment to flying to and from Shannon Airport.

He has spoken with the Taoiseach about the need to protect Shannon Airport and ensure it remains solvent throughout the bleak months ahead.

Senator Dooley is worried if the aircraft move, they may be transferred for a three-year period and hopes the Mid-West will leave Covid-19 restrictions next year

“Shannon is very dependent on transatlantic services. It is deeply concerning and worrying and the transfer would have a major negative impact on the region’s effort to start to recover from the Covid-19 fallout.

“It will be a long road from a tourism and hospitality point of view but if we lose this service, it will make it a lot more difficult to rebuild the aviation connections into the region.

“Covid-19 has dealt the country and the region a very heavy blow on inbound tourism, particularly from the United States and flights coming through Heathrow. Everyone is holding their breadth for the Covid-19 crisis to pass and recognise there will be a big marketing job to bring people back to the region.

“If we also lose our vital air connectivity, it will be almost an insurmountable task to start the rebuilding process if Aer Lingus move these flights.”

 

Dan Danaher

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