Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Timmy Dooley TD, has criticised reports that the cabinet has approved Shannon airport’s separation from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

“Cutting Shannon Airport adrift at this time is the wrong option; it leaves the airport without a secure revenue source and therefore puts its future viability in jeopardy,” said Deputy Dooley.

“Revenue at the airport has already suffered a significant hit as a result of Ryanair’s reduced activity there.

“The Government decision is based on an unrealistic business plan, which is not grounded in the facts of the current economic climate in Ireland and throughout Europe. The plan relies on a dramatic increase in passenger numbers and a reversal of trends in recent years, which seem fanciful at best.

“The viability of the plan is based on a strategy to deliver projected growth from the UK and Europe by holding all existing routes and winning back traffic lost to Knock and Kerry airports in recent years. It also proposes to add a new daily service to another European hub for next Summer and to introduce other scheduled operators on a phased basis.
“On transatlantic services, it is projected that existing carriers will continue all routes and will add additional specified routes on a phased basis from next year. Whilst the plan is laudable, it takes no account of the huge economic uncertainty and the inherent risks in future projections for the aviation sector.

“No financial security is provided for in the event of the plan not reaching its targets. However, the Government appear to have decided to strip Shannon of Aer Rianta International. A state company registered and based at Shannon Airport, this company was created, established, developed and operates out of Shannon, which generated a profit last year in excess of €30 million. It defies logic how Government Oireachtas representatives in the region can stand by and allow a Dublin-based Minister to gift Dublin Airport such a valuable asset.

“To ensure the airport continues to remain competitive, then Aer Rianta International needs to form part of this new entity. By making Aer Rianta International part of a new independent company, Shannon Airport will have the funding to secure the Airport’s future and provide a marketing budget that can be used to attract more tourists and open new air routes for the benefit of the mid-west region.

“Last month, Fianna Fáil launched the State Airports (Amendment) Bill 2012, which provides for Aer Rianta International to form part of a new independent Shannon Airport entity, this now needs support from Oireachtas members in the region to secure the future of the airport.”