Budget airline’s CEO has harsh words for government over aviation recovery policy
RYANAIR launched eight new Shannon routes last Thursday morning and said it will carry more passengers to and from the airport over the next year than it did in 2019, before Covid struck.
The airline’s CEO Eddie Wilson praised Shannon Airport’s management for being proactive in securing new services, and estimated around one million people will fly with Ryanair to and from Shannon in the next 12 months, up by around 25% on the 2019 figure.
It announced six new services for the winter 2021 season, to London-Luton, Budapest, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Fuerteventura and Turin.
New services already in place for the summer include Corfu and Gran Canaria.
While there has been some criticism of Shannon’s separation from the other State airports in recent times, Mr Wilson said the deal wouldn’t have been possible had it still been part of the DAA group, with Dublin and Cork.
“You have a situation whereby Dublin and Cork have not been able to respond in the same way Shannon has.
The incentive schemes in Dublin and Cork run out next June in the middle of the summer season, whereas we have got long term planning in place here with Mary Considine and her team which gives us certainty,” said Mr Wilson.
“We’re able to establish a good commercial relationship that’s good for the airport, good for the airline and great for the region.”
Ryanair has been very critical of the Government’s handling of aviation since the pandemic struck and Mr Wilson was typically outspoken on Thursday.
“The Government are asleep. The Government think that the aviation industry is going to pop back.”
He said its inaction will cost the country as a whole, but Shannon has made sure it will join in the recovery.
“There will be less airline seats in Europe next year. Shannon has secured its seats, Cork hasn’t, neither has Dublin. That means those airline seats will go elsewhere. It will mean that Ireland, not Shannon, will be less connected with less services.”
Mr Wilson said that all its Shannon staff are now coming back to work, and said this is in contrast to Cork, which is under the DAA.
“Cork has no Ryanair base, it’s lost its two aircraft. If it was the Munster final it’d be Shannon 2 Cork 0. They (the Government) need to do something about it, but they’re faffing around talking about who was at what party last week and not governing this country. And this country needs airline connectivity and certainty.”
He praised Shannon’s management for not waiting for things to recover, but making plans even while the pandemic had shut down the sector.
“They’re making a business decision to secure that capacity and they were doing this back in 2020, in the early stages. Everybody in this country is always waiting for the place to right itself, and then it’s too late.
“Shannon was proactive, no more than you’d expect from any airport throughout Europe that wants to secure traffic for the long term.”
Ryanair is going to expand in the coming years and there should be more good news coming for Shannon.
“We have 210 additional aircraft coming over the next five years, a huge order of 737s coming in and they’re going to be apportioned across Europe. I don’t see any reason why we won’t expand further.
“We now have a deal in place and I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to put more routes into Shannon for summer 2022.”
Economists have predicted a gradual global recovery in aviation, but he predicted it will come sooner in Europe than other parts of the world.
“Some of those commentators are talking about long haul travel, places like Asia, China are still uncertain about opening their borders. America still hasn’t opened its borders.
“South America is reluctant given the levels of infection. I think most of the traffic is going to be concentrated in Europe and there’s going to be pent up demand.”
Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine said that the deal with Ryanair is great news.
“We are delighted with today’s announcement by Ryanair. It is another important step on our road to recovery. Restoring its second based aircraft here at Shannon demonstrates Ryanair’s continued commitment to our airport.
“The confirmation of 18 routes from Shannon for Winter including exciting new destinations such as Budapest and Turin, is very positive news for the airport and for this region after what has been a very difficult period for the aviation industry.”
She added, “As we work to rebuild our air services, I am proud of our team who have worked closely with Ryanair to secure these latest Winter air services to London Luton, Budapest, Fuerteventura, Edinburgh, Turin and Birmingham, for the people of our region to enjoy.
“In addition, our existing services to London Stansted, London Gatwick, Manchester, Krakow, Wroclaw, Warsaw, Kaunas, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Malaga, Alicante and Gran Canaria (Las Palmas), will continue to operate throughout the winter.
“When people are ready to travel, our airport staff are ready to welcome them back. We want our passengers to experience that first flight delight which was evident this week with the inaugural Corfu service.
“The excitement expressed by passengers heading off on their first overseas trip in quite a while has given our airport employees a real boost as they begin to return to doing what they do best, which is to look after our passengers and make their experience at the airport enjoyable, memorable and easy.”
by Owen Ryan