Written Answers. - Air Services.

Dick Spring

Question:

215 Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Public Enterprise if she has satisfied herself with the passenger numbers using Shannon Airport in 1998; and the plans, if any, she has to ensure the future viability of the airport in the context of servicing the tourism industry in the west of Ireland. [1332/99]

Over the past 12 months a substantial number of new services have commenced operation from Shannon. On the Trans-Atlantic route, both Aer Lingus and Continental began daily flights to Newark. Royal Jordanian have just started a Chicago service. Aer Lingus will start up a service to Los Angeles in March. Delta, American Transair and Royal Jordanian will begin flights to JFK later in 1999.

Services to the UK increased significantly in 1998. Airlines began flights to Birmingham and Stansted, while Virgin Express started a further service to Stansted in December. Aer Lingus began services to the European mainland in April 1998 with triangular flights serving Shannon / Paris / Dublin and Shannon / Dublin / Frankfurt. Next March, Aer Lingus plan a daily direct flight to Paris. These very positive developments in services from Shannon have resulted in an overall increase in terminal passenger traffic of 7 per cent in 1998, notwithstanding the decline in transit passenger numbers which is related to the reduction in Aeroflot services through Shannon. It is clear from the foregoing that the overall growth in the range and frequency of services augurs well for the future of Shannon Airport and will ensure a continued positive contribution to the tourist industry in the west.