Empty seats the reason Aer Arann stopped winter flights at Galway Airport, says Walsh
By Kernan Andrews
“A commercial decision by a private company based on consistently low passenger numbers” is the reason Aer Arann chose to discontinue routes from Galway Airport for the winter.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway West TD Brian Walsh, who has criticised the view that the company’s recent decision was based on the level of subsidy that Galway Airport receives from the Government.
“The fact that the Government had pledged funding until the end of this year had absolutely no impact on increasing passenger numbers using Aer Arann flights,” Dep Walsh told the Galway Advertiser. “My information is that in some instances a load factor of 10 per cent was being achieved, that is to say that nine in every 10 seats on outbound flights were empty.”
Dep Walsh said passengers were not using the service and as a result the Government “cannot and should not be using taxpayers’ money to sustain private businesses that are under-utilised and clearly unsustainable”.
Dep Walsh also criticised the Galway Chamber of Commerce and Galway Airport management, asking if both were “suggesting that, in times of scarcity, we should be using money from the public purse to subsidise Aer Arann to fly businesspeople to London and Manchester on near-empty planes?”
In relation to the technical and skilled element of the workforce at the airport, Dep Walsh has made enquiries with the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar about redeploying some of them within the existing network of airports.
However Independent county councillor Jim Cuddy has contacted the County Manager to convene a meeting of all parties with an interest in Galway Airport to discuss what steps can be taken to keep the airport open and operating commercial flights.
“The IDA have informed me that the closure of Galway Airport will have a detrimental effect on their ability to attract inward investment into Galway and in persuading companies to set up a base here,” said Cllr Cuddy. “We need to ensure that every possible effort is made to prevent the closure of the airport.”