The Head of Aer Lingus says the airline expects to complete a comprehensive review of its long haul and short haul services at Dublin and Shannon Airports in the next four weeks.
Christoph Mueller was responding to a letter from Clare T.D. and Minister of State Tony Killeen who asked the company CEO whether the development of services at Shannon Airport was being sacrificed to prop up operations at Dublin Airport.
Minister of State Killeen explained: “I contacted Mr. Mueller on behalf of numerous business and political interests in the Mid-West region to make the case that Aer Lingus proposals as they relate to Shannon Airport are unjustified on the basis of the performance of the airline’s Trans-Atlantic services at the airport. I also outlined that any reduction of services will impact negatively on business in the West of Ireland and that the airline will be poorly placed to benefit from an upturn in the economy as a result of such a decision.”
He continued: “I am deeply concerned that any proposed reduction of existing services will impact negatively on cabin crew and other staff at Aer Lingus’ Shannon base. Notwithstanding the difficulties for the airline in the current downturn, I did point out to Mr. Mueller that options which could be taken on the basis of passenger numbers and income on Shannon services appear to have been avoided to prop up Dublin operations.”
“I informed the CEO that a former Aer Lingus employee has confirmed that management at the airline was actively dictating policy to staff over the last two decades to downgrade Shannon. I told him that this appeared to be a repeat designed to wrong foot him as the new CEO. I respectfully suggested that he seek independent advice before reaching final decisions”, added Minister of State Killeen.
In response to Minister of State Killeen’s representation, Mr. Mueller stated: “Aer Lingus remains committed to the Shannon region as an important part of the Aer Lingus network. Since my appointment I have visited the area several times and in addition to meeting our staff, I have met with a wide variety of business, tourism and airport interests. There has been much talk about Aer Lingus’ approach to Shannon. I deal in facts only.”
He added: “The Shannon market is an extremely seasonal one and in the case of the New York route, Aer Lingus has lost money every winter for the last 10 years and has made a profit over a full year in only 2 out of the last 10 years. The performance on Boston has been marginally better. Despite what you may believe to be the case, profitability from Dublin is equally challenging in the current environment. As we set out at a recent Investor day, Aer Lingus is a demand led business.”
“We must serve the markets where passenger demand exists. In this regard, we are currently carrying out a comprehensive review of our long haul and short haul network in the context of our short and medium term schedule planning. This review is expected to be completed within the next 6 weeks. While I am very cognisant of the importance of connectivity to the region, Aer Lingus must serve market in the most efficient manner. We will continue to work closely with the Shannon Airport Authority and the various tourism interests so that we can continue to serve Shannon and the wider region to the benefit of all stakeholders”, the airline CEO concluded.
Notes to Editor:
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