Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Utilisation of Shannon Airport.


andMr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he will give an indication of the trend of jet-aircraft using Shannon Airport with particular reference to the number of flights and passengers; and if in view of the high landing charges at London Airport, and the acute congestion existing there, he will consider the advisability of encouraging air companies to utilise Shannon Airport as the final landing and departure location for trans-Atlantic flights with a ferry service of non-jet aircraft to Britain and Europe generally.

Scheduled jet passenger services through Shannon Airport were inaugurated in June, 1960, and from that date up to 31st March, 1961, there were 1,026 landings at the airport by jet aircraft and 4,331 landings by piston aircraft. The total of 5,357 compares with a total of 6,925 by all piston aircraft in the corresponding period of the previous year. As regards passengers, it is too soon to estimate with any accuracy, but the trend seems to be towards a reduction in transit passengers and an increase in terminal passengers.

In the summer of 1960, three of the eight airlines providing passenger services through Shannon operated jet aircraft. In the summer of 1961 all the eight companies will operate jet services through the airport. The schedules indicate an overall increase of 19 per cent. in trans-Atlantic landings for the summer of 1961 as compared with 1960. It is not possible to forecast the number of landings by non-scheduled flights, which amounted to almost 40 per cent. of the airport's traffic in the year 1960. The Government have provided at Shannon Airport facilities designed to encourage the maximum use of the airport by trans-Atlantic airlines. These airlines evaluate very carefully the advantages to be gained by the use of the various airports available to them and their choice is also influenced, of course, by competitive factors. Adequate connections to Britain and the Continent of Europe are already available through Shannon and Dublin. One trans-Atlantic airline is, from the beginning of May, providing two trans-Atlantic flights a week terminating at Shannon and returning to the United States from there.

Every effort is made to increase general use of the airport and the increasing flow of air cargo now becoming available from the Industrial Estate should attract air companies to schedule further stops there.