Shannon Group CEO Matthew Thomas: European hub connectivity is vital for our tourism and business customers in the Mid-West
THE head of the Shannon Group has called on the government to safeguard EU connectivity for the Mid-West in a post Brexit environment.
As talks move toward a possible deal this week on Brexit in Brussels and London, the Shannon Group, which operates Shannon Airport, is calling for the establishment of a connectivity fund and for regional tourism targets to be set in the event of a British withdrawal from Europe.
Shannon Airport currently has UK hub connectivity through London Heathrow, which will continue to be hugely important connectivity going forward. But in a Brexit situation, Shannon will then be without connectivity into an EU hub.
Matthew Thomas, CEO, Shannon Group said: “European hub connectivity is vital for our tourism and business customers in the Mid-West, and Western regions. It provides the air access needed to grow tourism numbers, to conduct business and attract FDI investment from Europe and is now more important than ever in the context of Brexit.
“While European connectivity is currently serviced through the London Heathrow hub, the reality is that in a post Brexit situation, the West of Ireland will be without this critical EU connectivity.
“We are engaging with Government on specific asks for a connectivity funding programme to secure strategic routes. In addition, we believe that targets should be set for the national tourism agencies to grow visitor numbers into the regions. Government’s Ireland 2040 plan rightly highlights the importance of ‘high quality international connectivity’.
“We are looking for the mechanism to be put in place to ensure connectivity to a key European hub is in place for the West of Ireland.
“In light of the challenges Ireland would face from Brexit, particularly a hard-Brexit, it is of paramount importance that we safeguard our European connectivity. The Government’s Project Ireland 2040 recognises the fact that strong regions are the bedrock of a strong national economy.
“We believe that a strategic route development fund and regional tourism targets are essential and we would welcome Government’s and stakeholder support to see these asks implemented,” Mr Thomas concluded.