Friday, 7 September 2018

Questions (1453, 1454, 1455, 1456, 1457, 1458)

Noel Grealish

Question:

1453. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the public service obligation air service to the Aran Islands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36718/18]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

1454. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the tender process in relation to the public service obligation air service to the Aran Islands will be completed and the successful tenderer in place to commence the service on 6 December 2018 when the current contract terminates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36719/18]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

1455. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the stage the tendering process in relation to the public service obligation air service to the Aran Islands is at; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36720/18]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

1456. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the work carried out by her officials to date on the preparation for the new contract in relation to the PSO air service to the Aran Islands; the schedule of work; the timelines of the remainder of the work to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36721/18]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

1457. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if the new contract in relation to the public service obligation air service to the Aran Islands will be different from the current contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36722/18]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

1458. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if representatives of the three island communities will be actively engaged in the formulation of the tender proposals and in the decision making process in selecting the successful operator for the public service obligation air service to the Aran Islands; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36723/18]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1453 to 1458, inclusive, together.

In June 2018, Galway Aviation Services Limited, trading as Aer Árann, informed my Department that it was withdrawing from its contract for the provision of a PSO air service to the Aran Islands, and also from the contract that secured the availability of Conamara Airport for the duration of the aforementioned air service contract, with effect from 6 December 2018.

Following this decision by the company, both I and my officials moved quickly to assure the islands' communities that it is a priority of the Department that an air service for the islands be maintained.

I arranged a meeting between representatives from the Aran Islands and public representatives from Galway West in June and agreed to engage with island representatives on an ongoing basis. My officials have, since then, also met with island representatives and arrangements are being made for a further meeting in the coming weeks. My officials have also met with their counterparts in the Department of Transport and have sought a meeting with the European Commission to discuss this issue. That meeting will happen at the end of the month.

In parallel with this ongoing engagement, my Department is working towards a new tender competition with the aim of putting in place a contract for the next number of years. Neither a timescale for the running of this competition nor details of any contract that may emerge from it can be provided at this stage.