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A joint submission from Chambers of Commerce in the West of Ireland has been submitted to the Transport Minister seeking urgent intervention from the Government regarding Shannon Airport.

Seven measures have been proposed in the submission to deal with the current aviation crisis. One such request includes the immediate appointment of a successor to Rose Hynes as Chairperson of Shannon Group plc.

Further calls to introduce recommendations from the Aviation Recovery Taskforce have been made in the documentation forwarded to Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (GP) on Wednesday. Ennis, Shannon, Limerick and Galway Chambers of Commerce who collectively represent 1,358 businesses in the Shannon Airport catchment have collaborated to compile the proposals.

Support packages for airlines who maintain and develop Irish routes from regional airports forms another proposal. The connectivity of regional airports can be strengthened with future routes aimed at strategic markets. Targets on carbon emission reductions are also cited in the proposal.

An alignment of the Regional Airports Programme with EU criteria to allow Shannon and Cork avail of capital supports plus the basing of the National Aviation Policy around Project Ireland 2040 has been sought in the submission.

Specifically relating to Shannon Airport, the Chambers appealed for an urgent appointment as Chair of Shannon Group. The permission of cross subsidisation to use profits from other divisions within the group in support of strategic route and cargo operations development to ensure the long term-viability of Shannon Airport has also been requested.

Transatlantic and European connectivity was stressed in the submission. “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”.

Ireland’s attractiveness as a location for foreign firms, labour and tourists is reliant on aviation, the Chambers flagged. “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”.

Criticism of Ireland’s travel restrictions has been voiced in the proposal with the viewpoint that they threaten the country’s competitiveness and future economic recovery.

Last week, the Chambers of Commerce requested a meeting with Minister Ryan. He has agreed to meet with them in the next week to discuss their concerns.

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