Protection for Shannon Airport is required from the Irish Government as question marks hang over Aer Lingus’ future at the International Airport.
On Monday it emerged that Aer Lingus was considering moving its transatlantic routes from Shannon Airport to a UK base with six counterparts in the running including Manchester and Edinburgh.
Such a move would result in a “huge public backlash,” Deputy Joe Carey (FG) believed. The loss of Aer Lingus’ transatlantic flights would be “a crippling blow” for Shannon, the Government TD stated. Carey flagged that commitments were given by Aer Lingus that it would maintain its transatlantic services at Shannon when it was taken over by IAG in 2015.
Carey stated, “Any moves to switch Aer Lingus’ transatlantic services to the UK would have very stark consequences for Shannon and the entire Mid-West and Western regions. I understand the challenges for the airline in the Covid landscape are stark, but the airline cannot simply abandon the region and its employees in Shannon”.
FDI and global connectivity were referenced by the Clarecastle TD in stressing the importance of the routes to the Mid-West. He repeated calls from the Shannon Group to implement the key findings of the Aviation Taskforce for Recovery.
Deputy Michael McNamara (IND) believed the Irish Government should follow the example set by their German equivalents. “The Government should consider seeking an equity share in Aer Lingus as Germany has done in Lufthansa in return for a guarantee of regional connectivity. It is now sadly clear that the State should have retained a shareholding,” he told The Clare Echo.
During McNamara’s first stint as a TD, he lost the Labour party whip when voting against the Government’s sale of its stake in Aer Lingus.
Future plans of Aer Lingus at Shannon need to be clarified, Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) believed. He has spoken with Taoiseach Micheál Martin (FF) on “the need to protect Shannon Airport and ensure it remains solvent throughout the bleak months ahead”.
He added, “I consider it to be Ireland’s most exposed airport in terms of damage inflicted to the aviation sector by COVID-19. All efforts must now be made to get the Heathrow flight, above all others, operational again”. The Meelick native continued, “If you had told us at the turn of the New Year that we would be pleading for just one route to be back up and running at Shannon, we would scarcely believe it. The shoulder must be put to the wheel now to get this in place and I’m calling on management at Aer Lingus to issue clarity so these efforts can be focused accordingly”.