Are Galway Airport’s days numbered?

Aer Arann pulls flights and Government pulls funding

Galway Airport’s future is in serious doubt following the double blow this week of Aer Arann suspending its winter flights from Carnmore and the Government’s decision to cease its funding.

The airport will remain open during the winter, but at a lower level of operation. Although Aer Arann said it intends to relaunch services from Galway in April, the news has prompted a number of Galway politicians to declare that the airport’s days may now be numbered.

Yesterday Aer Arann announced it was suspending its services at Galway Airport over the winter with effect from October 31. The suspended routes are flights between Galway and London Southend, London Luton, Manchester, Edinburgh and Waterford.

Declining use of the airport by the public and a lack of bookings to take flights from Carnmore are believed to be behind the decision.

In a statement Aer Arann said it had taken this step because “bookings have continued to deteriorate” and all routes are “projected to be loss-making during the winter”. The economic situation has also seen “fewer people travelling” leading to “a significant reduction in fare revenues”.

“We sincerely regret having to make this decision and the impact this will have on our customers, on our staff in Aer Arann Regional, and on the staff of Galway Airport,” said airline chief executive Paul Schütz. “The reality, however, is that we are not yet a year out of examinership and not in a position to continue to operate routes that are not commercially viable.”

Aer Arann Regional has 35 flight deck and cabin crew based in Galway and all will be offered the opportunity to move to Aer Arann bases in Shannon, Cork, Dublin, and Waterford. Some redundancies may arise, but the airline said its priority is “to limit the number where possible”.

The Aer Arann hangar facility and engineering staff are not impacted by the decision to suspend services.

The Board of Galway Airport said it “deeply regrets” Aer Arann’s decision but that it is committed to the airport’s continued operation and the “future development of air services for Galway”.

The Galway Chamber, the majority shareholder in the airport, said it was “deeply disappointed” by the announcement and “deeply concerned regarding the employment situation” of the airport workforce.

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