With regard to the lack of Government policy on regional airports I am concerned about the way in which Waterford Regional Airport is being treated by the major airlines, specifically the national airline, Aer Lingus and the largest independent airline, Ryanair. Waterford Airport has had a considerable amount of public money invested in improvements in recent years, together with a huge amount of investment from the local community in Waterford and surrounding districts. Something in the region of £4 million to £5 million has been invested. The runway at the airport was lengthened and widened. Navigational aids were brought in and a modern terminal building is just being completed. Aer Lingus and Ryanair have seen fit to virtually abandon Waterford. Less than two years ago Aer Lingus withdrew the one service operating in and out of the airport. That was a feeder service which was operated in the middle of the day rather than earlier in the morning or late in the evening, when it would be of some use to commuters to Britain and other destinations. Ryanair have seen fit to cut back their services from three flights a day to one flight a day and that flight is now in the middle of the day and is not of great value to people who wish to do business in the UK and elsewhere.
I agree that 1991 was not a good year for airlines in general. It is a very poor year on which to base financial predictions. Apparently both companies are using the figures for 1991 as an excuse for not continuing to use the airport as it should be used. Early morning and late evening flights in and out of the airport are profitable. We would expect the Government to see to it that Aer Lingus and Ryanair provide a service to help the airport to survive. It is hard to see them surviving as a viable entity unless the national airline at least, does something about it. We are looking to the Minister of State, Deputy Kenneally, who is here this evening, to assist in getting the type of service needed, seeing that the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications, Deputy Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, announced such a service for Galway the week after she was appointed to the Cabinet.