Fianna Fáil Waterford Cllr Michael J O’Ryan has expressed his disappointment at the fact that Aer Arann has announced that it is suspending its services from Waterford airport.

The services to Luton, Southend and Manchester will be discontinued from January 2013, which will have a severe effect on tourism in the south east, according to Cllr O’Ryan.

“It is hugely disappointing that Aer Arann has decided to suspend its operations from Waterford,” said Cllr O’Ryan. “What is even more regrettable is the fact that the shelving of the route is not down to the attractiveness of the south east region or lack of demand.

“Unfortunately, the financial issues that Aer Arann has experienced have forced it to end its services at Waterford airport. What does give some hope is the fact that the south east region has a target market of 500,000 and may be attractive to other airlines.

“The potential at Waterford airport is huge and I would urge the Chamber of Commerce and the airport authorities to actively seek another airline to tap into this potential. The market is there so with a bit of creative marketing and promotion, an alternative provider could be found.

“We already have Flybe operating between Waterford and Birmingham and there is definitely scope for another airline to locate here. Waterford needs a fully functional airport to bolster the tourism potential of the region and any assistance the airport requires to bring this about should be provided.

“The Government has completely neglected Waterford since it came into office; just last week we heard of plans to downgrade Waterford Regional Hospital (WRH) and we also have the highest unemployment rate in the country. The Minister for Transport needs to take a direct interest in this and ensure Waterford Airport doesn’t become another hard luck story.”