Clare FM – Testing and aviation policy changes required to salvage Shannon and Cork operations

In response to the news that Ryanair is to close its bases in Cork Airport and Shannon Airport for the winter, I am requesting Government to introduce a system of rapid testing at airports in the short term and also develop a new State aviation policy to ensure international transit carriers do not fly exclusively into Dublin Airport.

While I understand that Ryanair will continue to operate some scheduled services to and from Shannon over the winter period, the direct impact of today’s announcement on 55 Ryanair workers and affiliated businesses across the West of Ireland is profound.

Shannon and those who rely on it for connectivity need the introduction of testing just as many airports across Europe have implemented to enable their aviation sector to function. We have a larger aviation sector than most other European countries and we are more reliant on-air connectivity than most other States, yet our Government has introduced policies that have compounded the issues the sector is experiencing. The wider implications of these policies are having a significant impact on our broader economy, for Foreign Direct Investment and for tourism.

Funding received from central Government can never compensate for a lack of a balanced aviation policy, as I have argued for repeatedly in Dáil Eireann since the introduction of restrictions on our aviation sector. Shannon needs a leg-up from the next Government more than it needs a hand-out.

Changes to national aviation policy, which would ensure carriers do not fly exclusively into Dublin, must be matched with the necessary funding. Furthermore, testing protocols should be agreed at all Irish airports to satisfy the requirements of destination airports. Furthermore, Ireland must sign up to the EU-wide traffic light system, which will see regions being marked green, orange, or red depending on their rate of Covid-19 cases.

I, along with a group of 18 other Independents TDs from across the West of Ireland, will meet with the Taoiseach, Minister for Transport and airline representatives to demand these changes.