Year-round US flights essential for regional development

United Airlines will suspend its Newark to Shannon flights from November to March
United Airlines will suspend its Newark to Shannon flights from November to March

FLIGHTS between New York and Shannon throughout the year are essential if Government is to achieve balanced regional development.

This week, the Chambers of Shannon, Ennis, Galway and Limerick said that retaining year-round services on the New York route must be a priority for Government after the United Airlines opted to suspend its Newark to Shannon flights between November and March next year.

The Chambers said that Shannon’s success in growing its services since separation from the DAA had been one of the cornerstones of recovery for the Mid West and West of Ireland regions.

The regions recorded the highest growth rates in IDA backed FDI investment in 2016 where a significant proportion came from US companies.

Many of the FDI firms citied connectivity to the American market as being vital.

Dr James Ring, CEO of Limerick Chamber said that the connectivity Shannon provides is vital for many big investment decisions.

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“If anything, United’s decision poses a real challenge to Government about its determination to correct regional imbalance on the island of Ireland.”

Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said: “The level of accessible air services is a key component in the ability of the region to attract future FDI and retain existing levels of MNC employment. These companies need year-round access to their parent companies and customers in the US.”

The impact on the Hospitality sector was also highlighted by the Chambers as the North American market accounted for approximately 25 per cent of tourism revenue in the West and Mid West regions during 2016.

According to the Chambers, the tourism sector is a key factor in the provision of regional balance throughout Ireland. The connectivity provided by Shannon Airport, as a gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, is a central enabler for the tourism sector. ”

The Chambers jointly called on local, regional and national public representatives to take action to support the key role Shannon plays in driving effective regional development. Supporting air connectivity to Shannon should be a key priority for Government and recognised, in particular, in both the forthcoming National Planning Framework and the National Aviation Policy.”

Commenting on the announcement Galway Chamber President Mr Maurice O’Gorman said: “Businesses across the western regions constantly stress the importance of the connectivity provided by Shannon in their decisions to locate in the regions. The international access provided here on the western seaboard by Shannon is also vital for indigenous enterprises seeking to expand into international markets.  We will be making a very compelling case for retention of these service and redoubling efforts to ensure it is fully supported.”

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