THE situation at Shannon Airport continues to deteriorate, despite a report claiming that air traffic increased this year, according to sources on the ground.
The Irish Aviation Authority recently revealed figures that claimed a 22.5% increase in commercial flights through Shannon last month, at 1,905, compared to a June 2010 figure of 1,555. It also states that overall air traffic was up 1.8% for the month.
However, an airport taxi driver, and Shannon and Clare councillor, claims that the figures are a “smoke screen,” and do not reflect the truth.
“We have hit a 16 year low at the airport and there is no work for taxi drivers,” Cllr Sean McLoughlin told the Limerick Post.
“There’s no point putting up a smokescreen, saying figures are up.
“Everyone is going to Dublin”.
Cllr McLoughlin said that taxi drivers are lucky to get two fares a day.
“There are 30 of us and nowhere near enough work.
“Some go to the airport at 3.30am and hang around until the evening, making about €30 a day”.
He stated that Clare County Council and the Limerick local authorities, need to have some involvement in the running of the airport.
“We need more contact with the DAA (Dublin Airport Authority).
“As the main authority, the county manager should have a seat on the board, and Limerick should have an involvement too, as how well Shannon performs also affects them”.
He advocated increasing flights to London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle, for business passengers or those taking connecting flights.
“There’s no point having 2pm flights, when business people want to go early in the morning and come back in the evening.
“They don’t want to be gone for two nights, when business could be done in a day”.
He claimed that a Cork company had recently withdrawn business from Shannon because of the lack of appropriate flight times.
“They were putting 100 people on flights to Boston every week, but because there are now fewer flights and none in the winter, they are flying to Heathrow from Cork and taking connecting flights from there”.
Despite the Irish Aviation Authority’s positive spin on figures from Shannon, the DAA’s annual report revealed that there are fewer people using the airport than 13 years ago, and that transatlantic traffic has declined by more than 50% in five years.