The Government has turned its back and walked away from two of the country’s regional airports by announcing the removal of all funding from Galway and Sligo airports in 2012, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport, Tourism and Sport Timmy Dooley TD has said.

“The Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has effectively given six months notice for the closure of these two airports.  The fact that this Government is prepared to abandon these airports is disgraceful and should cause great concern for people in the west of Ireland.”

“I do welcome the fact that the Minister is providing funding to all regional airports for the remainder of the year, in the form of an extra €5.9 million, but the Minister seems more than willing to adopt a sledgehammer approach for 2012.

“Minister Varadkar has made no mention today of any practical assistance from the Government for Galway and Sligo airports to remodel their respective business plans.  They’re literally being cut loose and told ‘if you want to make, you make it on your own’.

Deputy Dooley said: “The Minister’s commented today that “the right thing to do is support the most viable airports, where there is also a clear geographical need for their services.” How long before regional bus services find themselves in the same position, at the mercy of the Minister’s ‘geographical need’ barometer?

“The Minister should immediately lift the closure threat issued to Galway and Sligo airports today and genuinely engage with operators over the coming months.  Walking away is not good enough.  We hear much from this Government on the importance of tourism but at the same time Minister Varadkar appears intent on undermining essential tourism networks in the hope that it would go unnoticed,” concluded Deputy Dooley.