BUSINESS is facing disruption, it was claimed this week, after Aer Lingus confirmed a change to its Shannon-Heathrow service for the summer season.
From March 31, the morning flight will depart at 8.45am, in a move which has been strongly criticised. The daily flight currently leaves Shannon at 7.30am, arriving at 9am. As a result of the change, passengers will not land in London until 10.15am.
Fianna Fáil’s Deputy Willie O’Dea has criticised the move and believes it will have an adverse affect on business.
“The whole purpose of an early flight is to get over to London and start work in the morning time. If people are only getting started in Shannon at 8.45am, they won’t touch down in London until after 10 and they aren’t going to get to their office until after lunch-time.
“Given 90% of the people using the flight are going over to do business I really can’t understand how this will work at all,” Deputy O’Dea said.
However, CEO of Limerick Chamber Maria Kelly feels the frequent service will still prove to be positive for the local economy.
“The Shannon to Heathrow morning service is reverting to the historic summer schedule. And while it is an hour and a quarter later, we still have regular and frequent flights from Shannon to Heathrow which are of strategic importance to the economic development of our region,” Ms Kelly said.
Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller informed Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, in a letter obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that: “in our determination to maintain this existing level of service, we are required to participate in the highly competitive Heathrow slots market.”
Aer Lingus, he wrote, “continues to pursue profitable opportunities for developing its services to and from Shannon Airport”, noting demand on transatlantic flights was very positive in 2012. The other flights on the three-time daily service to Heathrow are unaffected.