The decision late last evening in the High Court to approve a plan for the survival of Aer Arann is one that is to be welcomed warmly in the west and indeed in all of the remote locations that it serves along the western seaboard of this country.
At time of going to press on Wednesday night, the news from the High Court is that the survival plan has been approved, but that there will have to be some modifications to the proposals put forward by the new investors.
If Aer Arann was to be allowed to disappear, it is unlikely that the remote regions in the west would be served by such a regular service for many years. Once it would be lost, it would be gone for a long time. Over the past decade, many airlines have come in and promised much, but in essence have delivered little, and at the first sign of route difficutly, they are on the first plane out.
Here in Galway the decision from the High Court is particularly relevant as it continues to give the city and county a link to the east coast and to the UK, and that is the very least that a city of Galway’s size, stature and ambition should have. I am a regular user of the Aer Arann servcies to the UK, usually for football matches and I never fail to be impressed by the service it provides which allows me to leave home on a Saturday morning and return less than 12 hours later.
While the performance of the company over the past few years has not been commercially successful. Maybe the shock of its term in examinership might result in a new streamlined service that will instead be viable and productive.
There has been a lot of talk about who will be involved in the new Aer Arann, but to be honest, that doesn’t really matter. While there was always a sense of pride that it was headed by a Galwayman with the best interest of his region at heart, the everyday ordinary user, does not really care who owns Aer Arann. A person who owns a shovel which over the years has had three different handles and three different heads still owns a shovel.
On top of all this, no airline is going to survive if it is not supported by the community which it purports to serve. The level of support for Aer Arann from Galway has not always been as high as it could have been. Maybe the new owners will embark on marketing and fare-setting that will drive new customers to use the service from our own airport, so as to lessen the come-to-bed eyes being flashed at us by neighbouring airports in Mayo and Clare. The 2040 seminar being held in Galway tomorrow at GMIT will hear contributions on transport in frastructure. Let’s hope that we can support the airport so that it will be still here and much bigger by the time 2040 comes along.