AN aviation policy that helps attract investment to Shannon and other regional airports is the only way to rebalance the country in terms of economic growth.
Speaking to the Limerick Post, Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin said that the biggest problem in transport and aviation sector is the lack of decision making by Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Asked about the need for an aviation policy to support growth outside Dublin, Deputy Martin said that although Dublin needs a second runway the planning restrictions around the first runway indicated that even if the second runway was built, there would be three million fewer passengers going through Dublin.
“Shane Ross has stalled on making a decision on that for the last 18 months because I don’t think he gets the regions and that is a problem.
“I know there has been growth in Shannon Airport this year and that is a very positive sign. Shannon has a unique edifice now in terms of the Shannon Authority because both Shannon and Cork have huge roles to play in terms of rebalancing the country.
“Dublin is absorbing any significant growth in terms of GDP every year – some 40 per cent of the country’s GDP is located in the Dublin region while London would be 20 per cent of the UK – so it is out of kilter as to how a country should develop.
“Shannon and Cork Airports are key to both regions because the Cork-Limerick-Galway axis is the key to rebalancing the country through the motorway, stronger collaborations between the research facilities and universities throughout the region which will provide a counterbalance to the East Coast.
“However, we can’t do that unless we have continued investment in the regional airports,” he concluded.