SPEAKING on behalf of Limerick Chamber, the largest business representative body in the Mid-West, CEO Dee Ryan said “We regret to hear the announcement by Aer Lingus of its intention to close its base at Shannon. We acknowledge that this has been and remains an immensely difficult time for the aviation sector. It is devasting news for staff and their families.
“Limerick Chamber is confident that market demand for services from Shannon Airport, including the critical Heathrow and transatlantic routes, will return once international travel resumes in post COVID era. We look forward to the earliest possible indication from Aer Lingus of its intention to reinstate those routes as quickly as possible and we commit to working to support them in any way we can.
“Today was a very disappointing day but not an inconceivable one – Limerick Chamber has been flagging since the onset of the pandemic, the vulnerable position that otherwise viable airports outside of Dublin are in. In our meeting last September with Ministers Ryan and Naughton, we advocated for direct intervention in support packages for airlines that would commit to reinstating critical links to regional airports and developing further new ones.
“Airlines are understandably making commercial decisions to reduce the seismic losses that they are experiencing but Government must engage immediately with Aer Lingus to explore all options to protect the base and services from Shannon.
“Action needs to happen now between government, airlines and stakeholders to identify what needs to be done so that airports outside the capital are supported in their efforts to secure route reconnection and are not last on the list to get services back.
“The regions outside of Dublin have been worst hit economically by the pandemic because of their reliance on tourism and hospitality. We cannot afford a lag in recovery time. It needs to happen in the regions as well as in Dublin and route connectivity is a critical piece of that recovery.”