23 February 2017

Deputy Alan Kelly welcomes Cork/Shannon announcement of new transatlantic flights but says we’ve been duped into supporting a Dublin Airport monopoly.

12 Dublin services will exacerbate regional development imbalances and insult Knock Airport, Taoiseach and Minister Ring.

Labour spokesperson on Jobs and Tipperary TD, Alan Kelly has said the Government is sleep-walking into a deepening and dangerous monopoly of the Irish aviation market by Dublin Airport, as proven by today’s announcement today of 12 new services for Dublin Airport by Norwegian Air International.

Responding to the announcement by Norwegian Air International, Deputy Kelly welcomed the fact that Cork is to get its first transatlantic service and that Shannon is to get four new weekly flights but that the fact that Dublin got almost double the two of them, not least considering all the noise made by the DAA over the past two years was exclusively in relation to Cork, shows that the regions have been duped.

And Deputy Kelly said that in allowing this to happen, Minister Shane Ross has shown contempt for the efforts of his cabinet colleague Simon Coveney to redress gross economic imbalances between the Dublin and the rest of the country.

The fact also that Knock is absent from the schedule is unacceptable, he said, and is a further slight not just to the people of Mayo and the North West but also the Taoiseach and, particular, Deputy Michael Ring, Minister for Regional Economic Development.

“While I welcome today’s announcement for Cork and Shannon, the 12 services announced for Dublin has signalled clearly that we have all been duped on this.  The entire play to get authorities here on board to support regulatory change in the US has been on the basis that this was for Cork and securing its first services. The reality we now see is that it was a Trojan horse for Dublin. 

“In all the press statements, even in its own annual report, the DAA only ever spoke about Cork and never Dublin.  But yesterday in national media, and confirmed today with the announcement, we get this surprise announcement of 12 services for Dublin.

“This did not happen overnight, far from. Instead, it was a play designed way out, probably from the very off, and it’s all about supporting a dangerous Dublin Airport monopoly.  While I’m delighted Cork is to get its first transatlantic service, the overriding emotion today I have is one of absolute annoyance. Not alone that we have just all been sleep walking as Dublin Airport’s monopoly has been strengthened but also as the DAA has its eye on a second runway and a third terminal.  But most frustrating of all is that we have been led up the garden path in how this was brought about.

“There was clearly an awareness that getting Cork its first service was the sweet spot and would get far more support than trying to get Dublin 12 more. Fool on us all to believe this.”

On the regional impact, Deputy Kelly said:  “This comes at a time when Minister Simon Coveney has initiated a laudable process for trying to arrest massive economic imbalances in this country with the National Planning Strategy.  Given that there’s a direct link between economic growth in regions and airport growth, and that Dublin is growing its market share while Cork, Shannon, Knock and others are losing market share, today’s announcement flies completely in the face of what Minister Coveney is trying to achieve.

“This is far from a Cork or even Shannon issue. It’s an insult to all the regions outside of Dublin and perhaps mostly on Knock Airport and the North West.  This is the constituency of the Taoiseach and Minister of State for Regional Economic Development Deputy Michael Ring, a man I greatly admire and who’s heart is absolutely in the regions.

“Throw in another terminal for Dublin Airport, which Minister Ross clearly wants, a second run-way, metro-north link and it will be nigh on impossible for other airports to compete.

“What’s also hugely annoying about this announcement is that this was exactly the type of opportunity and model that could begin arresting the economic imbalance.  Services to secondary airports like those in the US that Norwegian are flying to are ideal for airports like Cork, Knock and Shannon. Yet what’s happening – they’re pouring into Dublin.”

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