*SOS Chairman, Denis Vaughan. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Early signs on the resumption of international travel are ominous for Shannon Airport, a Save our Shannon rally heard.

On Saturday, the third rally organised by the Save our Shannon (SOS) action group was held at the Daniel O’Connell Monument in Ennis. Speakers included Violet-Anne Wynne TD (SF), Michael Cathal Crowe TD (FF), Joe Carey TD (FG), Senator Timmy Dooley (FF), Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND), former President of the Irish Hotels Federation Michael Vaughan and famous matchmaker Willie Daly.

Addressing the rally, SOS Chairman Denis Vaughan stated that warning signals are already emerging that airports outside of the capital are set for an even greater challenge for survival than they were prior to COVID. “We’re sick of the lip service,” he declared as he called on the county politicians to stand up for Shannon.

Less than a week after the lifting of the non-essential travel ban, Mr Vaughan commended Shannon Airport for already winning back some of its services. However, he said that there is a huge uphill battle for Shannon and other airports.

“You can’t but be worried for what lies ahead and the signs are already ominous. All we have to do is read the figures from the week just gone. Ryanair, which is making a great commitment to Shannon and we would ask the public to support the airline, had 176 flights in and out of Ireland on Monday and 150 of them were at Dublin. That’s over 85%. We do accept this is a very difficult time for the industry and for government to deal with but unless it acts, Shannon and other airports in the regions will be under serious threat and regional economies will be undermined,” Denis commented.

Recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic must be seen as as an opportunity to correct the disproportionate imbalance in the market. “Prior to COVID, Dublin was winning 96% of all new passengers into Ireland, which is clearly unsustainable in the context of balanced regional development. The maths speaks for itself. With every one-million of new passengers, 960,000 of them would be flying in and out of Dublin, leaving just 40,000 passengers divided amongst Shannon, Cork, Kerry and Knock airports. Not alone is that denying economic growth in regions that are lagging way behind the east coast but it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that half of those passengers are actually destined for the catchments of the other airports. It is also environmentally unsustainable to have people arriving into Dublin and travelling across the country to their destination”.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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