Written Answers. - Two-Airline Policy.

Helen Keogh


115 Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if he intends to develop a two-airline policy; the steps, if any, his Department has taken to progress this aim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17972/95]

Ireland now has 16 licensed carriers, only three of which, Aer Lingus, Ryanair and CityJet, operate international scheduled services. The bulk of their operations are within the European Economic Area (EEA) with only Aer Lingus operating to the US.

There have been major regulatory changes associated with the liberalisation of international air transport in recent years. As part of this liberalisation process, the role of Governments in controlling and regulating air transport has been progressively reduced.

Within the EEA carriers are licensed in accordance with common rules and all such carriers are free to provide air services on any international route in the EEA without Government approval, provided slots are available at airports.

Outside the EEA, traffic rights for air services are negotiated within the framework of bilateral air transport agreements. Most of Ireland's bilateral air transport agreements provide for multiple designation of airlines from either country to service the routes specified in these agreements. However, apart from the US, Irish airlines have shown little interest in operating scheduled services to countries outside the EEA.
In relation to the US Irish airlines have rights to four access points i.e. New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Currently, Aer Lingus operate to New York and Boston and plan to add services to Chicago in 1996. Translift Airways, who have not operated any scheduled services for some time, operated to Los Angeles during the period May to September 1993. There are at present no services to Los Angeles.
It has been the general policy up to now to limit access on Ireland/US services to one Irish carrier per route. This policy would be reviewed in the event of any approach by an Irish airline to operate new services to the US to any point served by another Irish airline, taking account,inter alia, of the need to develop more access capacity from our major tourism markets and the long-term need to maintain viable air services to and from the US.