FIANNA Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe says it is crucial that Aer Lingus clarifies its plans for transatlantic travel to and from Shannon Airport for the next 12 months.
A document, which outlines the airline’s timeline for the resumption of services, is said to have been circulated among company workers and states that the Shannon to New York and Boston routes will not recommence until the middle of next year.
“I’m calling on Aer Lingus to urgently make clear their future intentions for flying out of their Shannon base,” said Deputy Crowe.
“A story circulating today hints that it could be more than a year before they return transatlantic services to Shannon, which is of huge concern to their workers but would also have a devastating impact on the economy and tourism trade in the Midwest.
“Shannon, for many decades, has been the first stepping-stone for many North Americans entering Ireland and indeed Europe and it is essential that this connectivity is restored in the quickest possible timeframe.
“Aer Lingus, like many airlines, can feel disgruntled and hugely frustrated with the situation over the past 14 months, whereby practically all aircraft were grounded, very few took to the skies but the fact is there is now a clear pathway emerging for the restoration of international air travel.
“Just last week, the Digital Green Certificate was voted through the EU Parliament and this process of certification which will facilitate vaccinated and PCR-tested passengers to take to our skies once more is now going through final stages of refinement before being adopted by all member states.
“It’s expected that adoption and implementation will happen in approximately six weeks’ time.
“Parallel to this, the EU Commission is working on a separate set of proposals for Schengen Area countries that would allow a return of flights coming from North America
“At last night’s meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, I urged An Taoiseach and my colleagues in government to embrace these proposals with open arms.
“Though Ireland isn’t a Schengen Area country, we have been invited to partake in the talks and it’s in our best interests that we would go along with these proposals.
“All going well, it should be possible to see airplanes return to our skies in the next six to eight weeks.
“Whilst I fully understand the need for airlines to have a lead in period so that pilots and cabin crews can be ready and certified to return to the air, and also for marketing purposes, there is nonetheless an expectation that airlines here in Ireland and further afield will now start to commit to running services in the months ahead.
“Ryanair recently announced a new route from Shannon to Corfu and they expect to be running from Shannon in the summer and autumn period – we need to same commitment from Aer Lingus.
“This period of uncertainty is near an end and whilst I look forward to a staycation in Ireland with my family, I’ve already booked a flight from Shannon in August in anticipation of a return to international travel.
“It’s important that we here in the Midwest commit to supporting Shannon but we also need equal commitment from our airlines that have for so long serviced the region.”