Chambers unite to seek government support for Shannon Airport

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Chambers unite to seek government support for Shannon Airport

Limerick, Ennis, Galway and Shannon chambers have sent a joint submission to the Minister for Transport

Chambers representing businesses that directly support over 100,000 jobs across the Mid-West and West have united in one voice in a submission calling for government support to help to help Shannon Airport navigate the current crisis and establish a new model for aviation in Ireland.

The joint submission from Limerick, Ennis, Galway and Shannon chambers, which collectively represents 1,358 businesses across the Shannon Airport catchment, has been forwarded to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan ahead of a meeting sought by the group with him last week.

The chambers, in their joint submission, state that the ability of firms located in Ireland to do business internationally, and the attractiveness of Ireland for foreign firms, labour, and tourists depends on aviation. 

“As such, the business community in the Mid-West and West of Ireland is deeply concerned following recent decisions by Delta and United Airlines not to resume flights from Shannon Airport in 2021. These concerns have been further exacerbated by recent reports regarding the potential transfer of Aer Lingus aircraft serving routes to the US and UK away from Shannon Airport to alternative UK regional airports,” the submission states.

Separately, Ryanair has also threatened to close its base at Shannon for the winter if the government does not ease the current travel restrictions.

The chambers say that Ireland’s travel restrictions are among the most restrictive in Europe and the longer these restrictions are in place, the greater the risk they pose to our competitiveness and future economic recovery.

“While the business communities of the Mid-West and West appreciate that public health advice must take priority, we cannot ignore the fact that government-imposed travel restrictions are forcing airlines to make decisions that will have severe repercussions for regional economies. It is now time for the government to intervene and provide a support package for stricken airlines in order to ensure our connectivity into the future.”

The chambers call on government to adopt a strategic approach to support for airlines that are struggling to cope with the impact of Covid-19 and to follow the footsteps of Austria and France by ensuring that any support package has strong environmental conditions attached.

They also urge Minister Ryan to take the opportunity to advance the main objective of Project Ireland 2040 through the attachment of binding conditions for strategic route development into regional airports that will assist in addressing the regional economic imbalances.  

They outline seven asks that cover both the current crisis and the need to adopt new aviation policy measures that will enable growth at airports in the regions, in line with the objectives of Project Ireland 2040.

Specifically relating to operations at Shannon Airport, the government is being urged to urgently appoint Chair to lead Shannon Group and to allow cross subsidisation from other divisions within the group to support of strategic route and cargo operations development to ensure the long term-viability of Shannon Airport.

“The critical importance of Transatlantic and European routes with Aer Lingus into Shannon airport cannot be overstated,” the submission states. “This connectivity to other markets is vital for FDI and indigenous businesses operating across Industry and Tourism in the Mid-West and West. As we continue to navigate through the economic crisis caused by Covid-19, we urge the Minister to ensure that these links to vital markets are protected and new routes developed in support of economic recovery,” states the submission.

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