While not entirely unexpected, given Ryanair’s pre-announced intention to do so, Shannon Chamber has described Ryanair’s decision to close its Shannon base for the winter months, as disappointing news for Shannon Airport management and staff, Ryanair employees and the wider region.
Accepting that Ryanair’s decision is linked to the reduced load factor challenges that every airline has faced with regard to COVID-19, Shannon Chamber would expect this to be a temporary measure which can be overturned in the coming months as decisions on how Ireland will implement the harmonised EU traffic light system to facilitate safe travel are progressed.
“Connectivity through Shannon Airport is a critical part of the overall industry and tourism infrastructure of the region and, while not currently travelling extensively, businesses and people will regain the confidence to travel, once it is declared safe to do so,” stated Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes.
“The aviation sector has been one of the most severely impacted by COVID-19 and while a €10 million provision was included in Budget 2021 to address challenges facing Shannon and Cork Airports, given the impact of COVID-19 on our airports, capital support alone will not reignite the sector. The recommendations of the Aviation Recovery Task Force must be actioned. We would hope that these issues will be addressed in the National Economic Plan due for publication in November.
“Connectivity via Shannon Airport is hugely important to our member companies. They need connectivity to link with their markets from a sales and relationship point of view. While many have adapted as the pandemic has evolved, it’s very hard to replace the human contact element of business. Shannon Airport is the anchor that enables business connectivity into and out of this region. We would hope that Ryanair’s decision is temporary and as the impact of the virus abates and people have the confidence to travel knowing that health and safety issues and testing, tracing and tracking have been adequately addressed, we look forward to seeing Ryanair’s base reopen at Shannon in the months ahead and Shannon Airport’s runway’s active with Ryanair and other airlines’ flight movements.
“Measures to assist the airport recover from the impact of COVID-19 are not an option; they are a necessity. An island nation requires connectivity. All airports have been severely impacted and this has to be taken into account in the forthcoming National Economic Plan,” added Ms Downes.