Finding a new replacement for the Galway to Dublin route will be a challenge, but it is one that Galway Airport is still hoping to win, according to managing director Joe Walsh.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Mr Walsh said discussions were continuing with “a number of entities” to ensure a service between Galway and Dublin was maintained. This follows last week’s announcement by Aer Arann that its daily flights between the two cities will cease after July 21 due to the financial difficulties posed by the withdrawal of public service obligation (PSO ) funding. It was decided on January 12 this year by former transport minister Noel Dempsey to discontinue the PSO funding.
“The PSO funding runs out on July 21, this gave us a very short time scale for identfying new carriers. We’ve been talking to a number of entities and discussions are also continuing with Aer Arann regarding opportunities post PSO withdrawal to provide a route from Galway to Dublin. The reality of it is we had three daily services and it is going to be a challenge to replace that. The Government support of the PSOs enabled that frequency of connectivity to Dublin and from Dublin onwards.
“We have collected a lot of specfications and data that we are using in discussions with potential new carriers and with Aer Arann. The challenge is that the timing of the decision in January gave us little time. Many carriers have already set up their summer schedule and allocated their aircraft. There is a definite need for access to Dublin. In the month of March alone there were 2,000 people travelling from Galway to Dublin, that’s a significant number. Looking at the percentages for 2011, 60 per cent was for business travel, that’s not surprising when we see the level of connecting passengers. It’s a shame the previous government decided to withdraw support,” he said.
Mr Walsh added that Galway Airport management have done a lot of work in the last 20 to 24 months and that they will continue to work to ensure that Galway has the infrastrature that is vitally needed. “We must continue to grow and develop our infrastructure and Galway Airport has a significant part to play in the growth of the economy,” he said.
Regarding the proposal by Harbour Flights Ireland to have a new seaplane service between Galway and Dublin in place by September Mr Walsh would only say that it was something about which Galway Airport needed to be consulted.
“Because it is within our controlled airspace and the IDA are the approver, Galway Airport has to be consulted on the proposal, but to date we haven’t been”.