Cabinet meet to defuse Shannon row..

The first meeting of the Irish Cabinet since the Dáil rose at the start of the summer takes place today and as the RTÉ report says – “The Cabinet is expected to spend a considerable amount of time trying to find ways of defusing the political and economic head of steam in the mid-west.” That would be on this issue. And it’s being reported that the Taoiseach’s inter-departmental group are expected “to conclude that Shannon airport is already well connected internationally.” I’d suggest the suspension of this Minsk flight is unlikely to affect that assessment. And As this report notes, following the Cabinet meeting, the Department of Transport issued a statement Adds reminder of Fintan O’Toole’s article

Government met today and considered a memorandum on the withdrawal of the Aer Lingus Shannon/Heathrow service. The Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey TD outlined all of the background and circumstances relating to the decision and gave a report to Cabinet colleagues on the issue.

Government reiterated its deep disappointment at this decision taken by Aer Lingus which it emphasised is contrary to national aviation and regional development policy. Government also noted that this was a decision taken by the Executive and Management of Aer Lingus on commercial grounds. It was agreed that the Minister for Transport, on behalf of Government, would do all in his power to assist the Shannon Airport Authority to secure alternative London Heathrow services.

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  • What is interesting about the item is the context in which it is put: ‘contrary to national aviation and regional development policy’ with specific reference to the Shannon-Heathrow link.

    I noticed that yesterday’s Irish Times made a small feature (by-lined to Gordon Deegan, who I think may be the local stringer) of the new tunnel under the Shannon to complete the Limerick ring road [page 2: Shannon tunnel cost soars 86%]:
    The N[ational] R[oads] A[uthority] spokesman described the scheme ‘as the largest infrastructural scheme in the west of Ireland that no one knows about’.
    The timing of this could well be part of the soothing of local feelings, and looks very adjacent to the general point of regional development above.

    Shannon is no dead duck.

    It enjoys a particular position in transatlantic aviation. As I understand the “ETOPS” Regulations, two-engined aircraft (like the 777 and A330) operating over water need to be within two hours’ flying time of an airport. That gives Gander, Keflavík and Shannon particular significance.

    I see Shannon is also marketing its flight training facilities.

    By the way, the Heathrow-Cork service is one of the few Aer Lingus routes that are not regularly moaned about on the regular travellers’ gripe-sites. I recall Limerick-Cork being about 70 miles (not an unreasonable distance), and the roads are now greatly improved.

  • I am sure if people from Limerick can travel to Cork to get to heathrow, then people in Belfast can travel to Dublin to get to heathrow. the road between belfast and Dublin is a lot better than the one between limerick and cork.

    You are also forgetting about where that would leave Galway.

    This is the type of ignorance the government down here is using to try to divert attention from the seriousness of the whole problem.

  • lib2016

    Good letter in the Irish Times today suggesting that Ryanair simply renames Belfast as ‘Dublin North’ in line with its existing policy elsewhere. Seems reasonable. 😉

  • squid @ 03:19 PM:

    the seriousness of the whole problem

    The whole problem is that we are talking about an island large enough to be 39th largest US State by area, about 15th by population, but claiming three (or is that now four? or five?) “international” airports.

    Limerick is a city of fewer than 40,000 people (and so smaller than Galway), but is the centre of the Midwest (and so a local GDP worth about €8.5B, about $11.5B or the size of Kansas, the 32nd most productive US State). One operation (Dell) is nearly 6% of the RoI’s GDP.

    Are we agreed so far?

    The immediate Belfast region (no, I’m not talking ‘NI’) has a population of about 600,000, and so easily the second city in the island. I know of no recent, reliable estimate of the regional GDP, and suspect it has lately changed and continues to change radically and for the better.

    For better or worse, and it’s your call, Aer Lingus is now in the private sector. Last year’s losses of €70M ($92M) on sales of €1.1B ($1.45B) suggest that privatisation came just in time. Certainly I was reading the travelling public registering discontent with ageing, shabby aircraft and examples of desultory service.

    In all circumstances, the decision to open the third (or should that be ‘fourth’?) hub in Belfast is a no-brainer. If somehow the RoI government, or the Midwest region, or Shannon Development want to promote a rival to Aer Lingus, buy slots at Heathrow (£25M+ a throw), and can get all that past EU regulation, so be it. Glad I’m not paying the bills.

    Alternatively, and what will undoubtedly happen, is the froth will settle, and Shannon will have feeder services where presently it has direct ones. Very few will be greatly inconvenienced.

  • BrendanH

    Facts, people, facts!

    The Shannon tunnel is about a third completed, so the suggestion that it is a sop in reaction to the SNN-LHR withdrawal is more than a little silly.

    Secondly, Limerick has a population of 89,000 not 40,000 and is larger than Galway (66,000 or so). Limerick city council covers a much smaller area than the contiguous urban area, whereas Galway CC covers all but about 6k.

    Finally, “Shannon will have feeder services while presently it has direct ones” is a crass misrepresentation of the problem: it is losing its feeder service! LHR isn’t important for access to London, it’s important for direct access to the myriad destinations Heathrow offers.

  • BrendanH @ 10:13 PM:

    As they used to say, “RTFM”. Or in this case, the postings.

    I drew attention to the publicity suddenly being given to the tunnel. As you imply, it hasn’t had much headline treatment before now.

    I also gave full credit to the size of the Midwest region, and its significance to the whole RoI economy.

    “LHR isn’t important for access to London”: oh, good.

    If the LHR link is only a “feeder”, then, from SNN it’s probably quicker to go by Dublin or almost any other UK, French or Dutch connector: have you suffered a LHR connection lately?

    Anyway, a starter for ten:
    Why scorn the CdeG City Link?
    And for the jackpot prize:
    Has the Government got the balls to use its voting power in the EGM? They’ve talked the talk, now it’s walkies time. If so, and if the switch to BFS is vetoed:
    1. What compensation to Aer Lingus for the consequent loss?
    2. If no compensation is on offer, and the Government is seen to be dictating commercial policy, what will happen to the share price?
    3. And what was the point of the privatisation anyway?
    4. Have you got a replacement set of executives?

  • If the LHR link is only a “feeder”, then, from SNN it’s probably quicker to go by Dublin or almost any other UK, French or Dutch connector: have you suffered a LHR connection lately?

    And what is stopping people in Belfast using Hethrow from Belfast City with BMI?

    1. What compensation to Aer Lingus for the consequent loss?

    Considering a) Aer Lingus haven’t even costed the transfer, and b) they have sold 50 seats for the first week of belfast to heathrow compared to the 750 sold for the last week of Shannon-Heathrow, then I will let you work the level of compensation out.