Limerick Chamber Shannon Airport – CEO of Limerick Chamber, Dee Ryan says that connectivity through Shannon has been a key factor in the economic recovery of the Mid West in the years since the ‘08 recession.
Limerick Chamber calls for measures to support Shannon and regional recovery
The CEO of Limerick Chamber, Dee Ryan, has said that a comprehensive plan needs to be put in place to ensure that Shannon Airport and Mid-West/West of Ireland is primed for the global aviation recovery.
Said Ms Ryan: “We are deeply concerned by reports that Aer Lingus may be considering moving aircraft used on Heathrow and transatlantic services at Shannon to UK regional airports to commence transatlantic services from there.
“Connectivity through Shannon has been a key factor in the economic recovery of the Mid West in the years since the ‘08 recession and we need to ensure that Shannon Airport is resourced so it can move quickly to reinstate transatlantic and European connectivity as soon as public health advice on travel changes. limerick chamber shannon airport
“We call on the airline, the Government and the airport to come together for meaningful discussions to ensure that the best possible solution for everyone is found.
“In tandem with this, and notwithstanding the very serious challenges that the aviation sector face, we believe it is an opportunity to reimagine air connectivity throughout the whole island and to develop new aviation policy in support of regional development and climate action goals.
“We also ask the Minister for Transport Eamonn Ryan to urgently seek out an experienced, strategic and entrepreneurial Chair to lead Shannon Group following the ending of the outgoing chair Rose Hynes’ tenure last weekend.”
Ms Ryan said that Limerick, in particular, has won more foreign direct investment in the last five years or so than it did in any similar period before. In all of those announcements Shannon Airport was cited a key influencer in deciding to set up in the region, she said.
“So much employment in the Mid West relies on route connectivity through Shannon. It’s catchment has over 40% of all foreign direct investment from the US and it is critically important for tourism, given that it is the gateway airport to the Wild Atlantic Way. So, it’s essential that Shannon is supported and primed for recovery when aviation gets going again. We need to begin planning for the recovery that will inevitably come. Aer Lingus’ services at Shannon will be critical to that.
“Therefore, the Chamber believes it is essential that any government subsidies or supports to airlines will be contingent upon commitments from airlines to increase regional route connectivity.”
In other news Limerick Chamber has called on Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to use the current hiatus in aviation to develop new national aviation policy to address historical disparities that have deepened economic imbalance on the island of Ireland.
The Chamber has written to Minister Ryan to seek a meeting as a matter of urgency regarding concerns about Aer Lingus transatlantic and Heathrow services but also to seek an immediate reappraisal of the national aviation environment.
Said Limerick Chamber CEO Dee Ryan: “In the immediate term, we have to deal with the Aer Lingus issue and we welcome today the announcement by Deputy Joe Carey of government’s commitment to support Aer Lingus and that any such support would be contingent on it retaining its services in the regional airports. That must be a non-negotiable element of the deal. Aviation here has, because of public health advice, ground to a standstill almost but we must look beyond that to the recovery and ensure that these services are in place and airports are primed for that.”
Ms Ryan, however, said that this welcome intervention from government must be accompanied by a commitment to review national aviation policy. “Making sure that Shannon, Cork, Knock, etc. retain services they currently have is only one aspect and must be accompanied by a review of national aviation policy. We must create an environment where these airports can generate the growth that’s so badly needed to rebalance the national economy. If we don’t, the objectives set out in Project Ireland 2040 will be impossible to deliver. Now is the time to have this review.”
Ms Ryan said that since the baseline year of Shannon’s separation (2013), Shannon has grown by 300,000 passengers and Cork by 250,000 passengers. Yet, in the same period, Dublin Airport has grown by 13.8million. “No one is arguing that Dublin should not grow but when you compare Dublin’s 13.8million passenger growth to a collective between the other two state airports of just 550,000, it’s undeniable that this is not in the State’s interest.
“If policy was in place that meant just 10% of that growth spread evenly across Shannon, Cork and, indeed, Knock, it would have meant Shannon topping the 2.2million passengers, Cork would be over 3million passengers and Knock would be 1.2million. By the same token, Dublin Airport would have grown by 12.4million. Everyone wins.
“A conversation has to start now about rebalancing the national aviation scene because of its potential to positively impact job creation in the recovery. We have an opportunity now not to return to the old normal as, underpinned by international connectivity, regions can position themselves more competitively than ever as preferred sites for inward investment.” limerick chamber shannon airport
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