Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe has said he is very aware of the importance of connectivity to Shannon Airport and to business in Clare.
There have been fears that Shannon’s Heathrow links could be lost if the mooted IAG takeover of Aer Lingus goes through, and while the Minister didn’t explicitly rule out a deal which could see the Clare airport losing connectivity, he stressed that he is very aware of how important the link is, and said connectivity would be an important consideration in making a decision on any bid for the State’s 25.1% stake.
In an interview with The Clare Champion, he said, “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.”
The Minister said his party colleagues had spoken to him about Shannon’s loss of the link in 2008, something that was a major PR headache for the then Fianna Fáil government. “We’re certainly aware of what happened to Shannon Airport and to the local economy between 08 and 09 when those slots were changed. The FG representatives have been at pains to stress to me the consequences it had for their county and the businesses in it. That’s why I want to emphasise to yourself that when we talk about national connectivity, I’m very aware that national connectivity has very important regional dimensions and of the role airports like Shannon play in tourism and allowing businesses to sell their goods and services abroad, it’s something that’s well understood by me.”
He also said that representatives of the Department of Transport have been in touch with Shannon chairman Rose Hynes and CEO Neil Pakey regarding the issue.
For more, read this Thursday’ s Clare Champion.