Regional Airports: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Michael McNamara on Wednesday, 11 November 2020:
That Dáil Éireann:
recognises the vital strategic role occupied by the aviation sector in the development of the national economy and the importance of maintaining connectivity to the regions;
is deeply concerned at the imminent crisis facing Irish airports, in particular, Shannon, Knock,Kerry, Donegal and Cork airports; and
recognises that transatlantic flights to and from Shannon can be operated with a reduced carbon footprint per passenger compared to those operated from Dublin Airport, and also recognises the unsustainability of an ever-increasing proportion of tourists flying into Dublin Airport whence they are being bussed to other regions of the State;
acknowledges the link between attracting foreign direct investment into regions and their aviation connectivity; and
calls on the Government to:
— implement in full, the recommendations of the Aviation Recovery Taskforce;
— prepare a new national aviation policy that recognises the importance of regional connectivity to balanced and more sustainable regional development;
— revise Fáilte Ireland's objectives to include attracting tourists to fly directly into the State's regional airports;
— develop a testing regime for passengers to and from both orange and red listed destinations in the European Union (EU) in order to fully implement the spirit of the recent European Council Recommendation on a co-ordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the Covid-19 pandemic;
— include Shannon and Cork airports in financial assistance currently provided by the State for capital works and the development of routes (as allowed under EU state aid rules) by increasing said financial assistance in recognition of the precarious financial position of airports outside Dublin; and
— acknowledge Shannon Airport's traditional role as Ireland’s transit airport and the reduced carbon emissions of intercontinental flights from the airport due to its longer runway and, in acknowledgement thereof, limit fifth freedom rights to airlines using Shannon Airport for intercontinental transit flights.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 3:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
"notes that:
— the Programme for Government 'Our Shared Future' recognises the huge value of our aviation sector in supporting economic development, international connectivity and tourism via our airports;
— the aviation and tourism sectors are major contributors to Ireland’s economy;
— successive Government policies have recognised and supported this contribution and pointed, in particular, to Ireland’s reliance on international connectivity to secure its competitive position internationally;
— the development and growth of international connectivity is facilitated by ensuring competition in the aviation industry;
— under the Chicago Convention, Ireland has negotiated bilaterally with a wide range of States to agree market access rights for both passenger and cargo services;
— Ireland traditionally has a liberal aviation policy and the general policy in negotiating bilateral air services agreements is guided by free market principles, and we remain positively disposed towards approval of fifth freedom rights on a reciprocal basis in bilateral agreements;
— the Government has already made progress in implementing several recommendations of the Taskforce for Aviation Recovery Report, and the other recommendations, including further targeted financial supports to help reinstate connectivity, regional development and sustainability in the sector are being considered and developed as appropriate;
— regional connectivity and development remains a critical priority of this Government;
— given the impacts of Covid-19 on the Country’s regional State airports, Budget 2021 provided €10 million in capital funding to assist Cork and Shannon airports meet the challenges presented by Covid-19 and also confirmed a commitment of €21 million to the continuation of the regional airports programme to support Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Donegal airports;
— in line with the ‘Resilience and Recovery 2020 – 2021: Plan for living with Covid-19’ and to ensure that testing arrangements for international travel does not impact on the Health Service Executive testing capacity, the Government will enable the State airports to provide additional private testing capacity;
— before the Covid-19 outbreak, the Department of Transport had commenced scoping work on a revised version of the full National Aviation Policy, however, the Covid- 19 crisis has fundamentally changed the aviation landscape; in this context, it is considered more appropriate to take a shorter term view to examine how the aviation sector and regional connectivity can be supported while air travel remains suppressed due to the virus and how assistance can be provided to the sector to recover once this eases, and a full National Aviation Policy will be revisited in the future once the Covid-19 recovery picture is clearer and that policy has the potential to add value once again;
— prior to Covid-19, regional airports received funding through Tourism Ireland’s Regional Cooperative Market Access Scheme - a co-operative marketing activity to encourage new access and maximise the potential of existing services to the regions; as a result of Covid-19 and restrictions on international travel, Tourism Ireland has suspended paid promotional activity for its Regional Cooperative Marketing Scheme in Ireland, and will consider the resumption of the Scheme and any further measures to support regional access on foot of the report of the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and in the context of the National Economic Plan; and
— the forthcoming National Economic Plan, to be concluded later this year, will provide for any further appropriate measures to safeguard strategic regional connectivity and the resilience of the aviation sector; and
notes the Government’s commitment to:
— the survival and recovery of the aviation sector when circumstances allow;
— maintaining Ireland’s core strategic connectivity as it is essential for us as an island for export businesses and for Foreign Direct Investment;
— creating conditions to encourage the development of new air routes, particularly to new and emerging markets, when conditions allow;
— ensuring a high level of competition among airlines and airports;
— ensuring that our State airports are well positioned for the recovery so that they have the capability to resume and regrow services at the right time and commits to considering any additional supports that may be necessary in this regard;
— ensuring the regulatory framework for aviation reflects best international practice;
— considering further targeted financial supports to help reinstate connectivity, promote regional development and sustainability in the aviation sector, which will feed into the Government’s further plans to aid broader economic recovery at the appropriate time, while being cognisant of prevailing public health advice;
— increasing and extending Ireland’s bilateral agreements with other States, with the ultimate objective of reaching agreement on the basis of fifth freedom rights on a reciprocal and non-discriminatory basis in terms of access to Irish airports (the limiting of fifth freedom rights to any particular airport in Ireland would most likely lead to a similar limitation in the other country market and this would not be in the national interest);
— develop a testing regime for passengers to and from both orange and red listed destinations in the European Union (EU), in order to fully implement the EU coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with all measures in place for red/grey regions in the EU European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control categorisation, including arriving passengers not being advised to restrict movements while undertaking an essential function, to be applied to arrivals from all other third countries; and
— implement the remaining recommendations contained in the Aviation Recovery Taskforce which are aimed at stimulating a return to growth in air travel when the time is right to do so."
- (Minister for Transport)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 3 in the name of the Minister for Transport to the motion re State aviation policy as it affects regional development and regional airports. Today, on the question that the amendment be made, a division was claimed and that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 67; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Marian Harkin and Michael McNamara.
Amendment declared carried.
Question, "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to" put and declared carried.