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Chamber of Commerce Presidents in the Mid-West have vehemently stressed the need for Shannon Airport to maintain “essential connectivity” with Boston, New York and London.

It comes amid concerns that Aer Lingus may move aircraft from Shannon to a UK counterpart. Engagement is needed between the Government and IAG, both Shannon and Ennis Chamber outlined.

In a joint statement to the The Clare Echo, Stephen Keogh and Allen Flynn commented, “While airlines may choose to relocate for financial reasons, the loss of connectivity to and from Shannon should be regarded by Government as a national economic issue, and one that requires intervention at State level. Transatlantic traffic feeds the West of Ireland, Wild Atlantic Way and the Atlantic Economic Corridor resulting in North American visitors accessing Ireland through Shannon Airport spending a higher percentage of time and money in the West of Ireland than those who access via Dublin. Taking away the transatlantic fleet and service from Shannon is unthinkable”.

Any swift departure by Aer Lingus would leave lasting consequences for industries across the Mid-West. “The majority of companies set up in Shannon and the region due to the air connectivity. To lose this will affect in a large way foreign direct investment (FDI) and could ultimately result in some companies possibly relocating or reducing investment here. The recommendations made by the Aviation Recovery Taskforce issued in early July for rebuilding regional and international connectivity need to be urgently implemented to ensure vital connectivity for Shannon is restored,” the Presidents added.

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“It is unimaginable that Shannon would have very limited connectivity to transatlantic markets. Whilst travel is currently very much restricted, we must retain confidence that the trade we have lost due to the pandemic will be restored and that visitors will once again choose Ireland as a leisure destination. Any loss of transatlantic routes would diminish that hope and make it considerably more difficult to attract visitors to the west of Ireland. The reversal of the reported withdrawal of Aer Lingus services from Shannon requires swift and urgent Government intervention,” they concluded.

CEO of Limerick Chamber, Dee Ryan maintained 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. “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”.

She added, “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.”

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