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*Photograph: Joe Buckley

AER LINGUS IS to pull one daily flight from Shannon Airport in order to meet a Heathrow Airport cap on passenger numbers.

Airlines have been instructed to cut flights from Heathrow in order to bring the number of outgoing passengers moving through the airport down to 100,000 a day between now and September 11th. According to airlines, the London hub has threatened legal action if voluntary flight cuts are not forthcoming.

Prior to the weekend, Aer Lingus said it would cut either one or flights each day between Heathrow and Ireland as part of this. Over the weekend, the airline cut flights to Dublin and to Cork on separate days to meet what it has called “the mandated flight cancellations”.

One of its daily flights to Shannon from Heathrow (7:20pm) will be culled this week, this is Aer Lingus’ last flight of the day, passengers returning to Shannon will now have to try avail of the 9:20am or 2:45pm service which is likely to present headaches for businesspeople accessing the Mid-West and London.

According to Aer Lingus, they will try to minimise disruption to passengers on the flights by reallocating them where possible to one of its other flights out of Heathrow. A spokeswoman confirmed it was “contacting impacted customers directly to apologise, advise them of their customer rights and offer options including rebooking or refund”.

Over the weekend, Aer Lingus was forced to cancel seventeen flights for reasons including the Heathrow, staff illness and industrial action in Europe.

Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) has expressed his frustration at the Aer Lingus decision. “Shannon Airport has again lost out as aviation decision makers continue their obsession with Dublin Airport. It beggars belief why Aer Lingus wouldn’t remove these flights just from Dublin Airport to Heathrow as we know well Dublin could do with less passengers passing through. The aviation sector in Ireland needs urgent reform. Shannon and other regional airports must be used more to ensure balanced regional development and to take pressure of Dublin Airport,” he stated.

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