The current air services to the Aran Islands need to be upgraded so it becomes feasible for aircrafts with capacity of up to 20 seats to provide flights to and from the islands.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, who is calling on the Aire don Ghaeilge, don Ghaeltacht, agus do na hOileáin, Seán Kyne, to ensure that any new air service contract upholds the standard of services there previously, and extends the runways marginally to a length of 1,800ft to facilitate aircraft of up to a capacity of 20 passengers.
Dep Ó Cuív said this would provide a “more economic service”, while also being of “higher quality with better planes”. He said it would also make it much more viable to provide air services to Cleggan and Inisbofin, especially as both have airstrips of 1,800ft which could accept larger aeroplanes.
“The air service to the Aran Islands has traditionally been a life-line service and is of huge importance to islanders,” he said. “However, the decline in this service in recent years, with the enormous reduction in the number of flights and passengers being carried, is of huge concern.”
Dep Ó Cuív attributed the decline to “the terms of recent State contracts” with the flight operators; the advance booking only situation, which means “people who cannot plan journeys that much ahead, have stopped using the service”; and the ceasing of all but public service obligation flights in the morning and in the evening.
“The status quo is not good enough,” said the Cornamona TD. “We need to be progressing at all times, providing better services to people on the islands and encouraging more people to visit while facilitating the development of the social and economic life for islanders.”