Sinn Féin’s Gaeltacht spokesperson, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, has said the Taoiseach should appoint an independent arbitrator to resolve the impasse on the use of Minna Airport for the purposes of supporting an air service to the Aran Islands.
Oireachtas members met Minister of State Seán Kyne and his officials last week to review the discussions they have been having with the company that owns Minna Airport.
The Galway West-South Mayo senator said; “The Minister clarified that there are still three outstanding issues that they have not been able to resolve. I subsequently wrote to the management of the airport seeking clarification from them of their position on these. There is disagreement as of yet in relation to the level of profit that is acceptable, that budget items be subject to Consumer Price Index changes and that the overheads be apportioned across flights which are not part of the contract for the PSO to the islands.
“It appears to me that the Minister does not see a way forward in these negotiations and that there is a real danger that the current air service may be discontinued from the end of September if a solution is not found quickly. The deadline for the PSO applications has now been extended for a fourth time.”
Senator Ó Clochartaigh has called on the Taoiseach to intervene at this stage to try to find a resolution. The Sinn Féin politician claimed the company said it would be open to this happening whereas the Department was not as forthcoming on the suggestion last week.
“It is crystal clear from the correspondence from the company that they are very open to discuss the ownership of the airport. Sooner or later, this must be tackled and I would prefer to see a clear delineation between the air service and the ownership of the airport. In my opinion it is worth looking at a model where the airport would be under public or community based ownership.