“The Government is deliberately preparing the ground to abandon support for Shannon Airport in favour of bolstering Knock without a genuine economic case for doing so and threatening future investment and employment in the Midwest,” Fianna Fáil’s Transport Spokesperson Timmy Dooley has said.
Deputy Dooley said: “Shannon Airport should continue to receive subvention from the DAA so it can strengthen its position and continue to deliver a quality service for the midwest region. Minister Varadkar is clearly in the process of conditioning people in the region to the fact that Shannon Airport will be cut loose from the lifeline provided by the DAA and be left to go it alone at a time of economic crisis.
“In a recent local radio interview Minister Varadkar said it is ‘reasonably likely or a fairly good chance that Knock will overtake Shannon this year on passenger numbers.’ There is absolutely no evidence to support this whatsoever. Shannon is currently accommodating close to 900,000 passengers more than Knock. How exactly does the Minister see such a massive increase in Knock taking place in such a short space of time? This is totally unrealistic.
“Since coming into office more than a year ago Minister Varadkar has failed to show any clear commitment to the future of Shannon Airport or set out the Government’s vision for the future of the airport. Shannon is not in a radically different position from that of Cork Airport at the moment yet Shannon seems to be in the Minister’s firing line.
“The Minister is on record as saying that public representatives should be ‘sensitive and responsible’ in public comment. How does he square that with saying Knock is likely to overtake Shannon. Businesses and in particular potential foreign investors will not be assured by the Minister’s commentary on Shannon Airport and I believe this has the potential to damage investment and employment for the region.
“What is the Government’s intention towards Shannon Airport? Has there been a deliberate shift in policy in Government to support and grow Knock Airport at the expense of Shannon and if so, why? The public have a right to know the answers to these questions and the Government has been less than forthcoming with the answers to date,” concluded Deputy Dooley.