Shannon Airport urged to grow European connectivity

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Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea

SHANNON Airport Authority has been urged to grow the number of destinations they serve including a new route to Paris.

Fianna Fail TD Willie O’Dea believes that Paris would offer huge and hassle free connectivity to the rest of the world for businesses in Limerick and the Mid-West.

“CityJet terminated the Shannon-Paris service in October, 2009 at the height of the recession and Ryanair cut their Shannon to Beauvais service in 2016,” Deputy O’Dea pointed out this week.

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“Many people in Limerick have said to me that they have to travel to Cork or Dublin in order to fly to Paris which is one of the largest cities in Europe with excellent connections from Charles De Gaulle Airport to hundreds of destinations around the world. Furthermore, the greater Paris area has a population of 12 million people and we need to market Limerick and the Mid-West to this huge cohort of people and encourage them to fly to Shannon and visit our many excellent tourist and leisure offerings.”

Deputy O’Dea is also of the view that we must look at our connectivity with Europe and beyond with the possibility of a hard Brexit coming down the line.

“There needs to be significant marketing support for an airline to commence flying on the Shannon to Paris route again now that the economy has picked up. This has to be a priority for Shannon Airport Authority.

“Thankfully, Shannon Airport has seen a 6.6 per cent increase in passenger numbers in the first six months of this year with new direct Toronto flights and new and enhanced services to Barcelona, Bristol and Liverpool. However, the passenger numbers are still down about one million on what they were a decade ago and the lack of a service to Paris from Shannon is a major disappointment for many people I have spoken to,” he told the Limerick Post.

Responding to his comments, Matthew Thomas, CEO of Shannon Group welcomed his call for European hub connectivity for Shannon and called for his support to champion the need for a strategic route development fund and tourism targets with Government.

“In light of the challenges Ireland would face from Brexit, particularly a hard-Brexit, it is of paramount importance that we safeguard our European connectivity. The Government’s Project Ireland 2040 recognises the fact that strong regions are the bedrock of a strong national economy.  We believe that a strategic route development fund and regional tourism targets are essential and we would welcome Government’s and stakeholder support to see these asks implemented,” Mr Thomas concluded.