Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West, Éamon Ó Cuív has called on the Minister of State for the Gaeltacht to upgrade the current air services to the Aran Islands to make it feasible for aircraft with a capacity of up to 20 seats to provide this service.

He commented, “The air service to the Aran Islands has traditionally been a life-line service and is of huge importance to the Islanders. However, the decline in this service in recent years with the enormous reduction in the number of flights and passengers being carried, is of huge concern.

“The number of flights has been dramatically reduced due to the terms of recent State contracts with the company.  The situation has changed in the last few years whereby only if you book well in time, have you any chance of getting a seat on the plane to the Islands and as a result a lot of people who cannot plan journeys that much ahead, have stopped using the service. The wide range of services throughout the day has ceased and the only services now being provided to the islands are the public service obligation (PSO) flights in the morning and in the evening.

“The Minister for the Gaeltacht should ensure that any new contract provides a standard of service that was there previously. I also call on him to extend the runways marginally to a length of 1,800 ft so that larger aircraft of up to 20 passengers’ capacity could be used on the service, thus providing a much more economic service and one that would be of a higher quality with better planes.

“The move in this direction would also have the very good effect of making it much more viable to provide air services to Cleggan and to Inisbofin Island, which already have airstrips of 1,800 ft in length which could accept these aeroplanes.

“The status quo is not good enough and we need to be progressing at all times, providing better services to people on the islands and encouraging more people to visit while facilitating the development of the social and economic life for Islanders,” he concluded.