Thursday, 26 September 2019

Questions (166)

Richard Boyd Barrett


166. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of fifth freedom applications he has received from an airline (details supplied); the routes for these applications; the applications he has approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39111/19]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

The Ireland - Ethiopia Bilateral Air Services Agreement, signed in 2014, allows for the granting of fifth freedom air traffic rights for airlines of both countries, on a reciprocal basis, and subject to the approval of the respective aeronautical authorities.

With regards to Ethiopian Airlines operating fifth freedom passenger air services, in 2015, my Department approved an Addis Ababa - Dublin - Los Angeles return service, which operated until Q4 2018. In late 2018, my Department approved an Addis Ababa - Madrid - Dublin return service, with Madrid being a technical stop only. This was changed to a fifth freedom service for the summer 2019 season, once all aeronautical authorities granted approval.

My Department has recently received a formal application from Ethiopian Airlines to operate an Addis Ababa - Brussels - Dublin with return service for the winter 2019 season. This would replace the Madrid 5th freedom route. The Department is currently initiating a process of stakeholder engagement and evaluation before determining whether or not to grant an authorisation for this service.

Addis Ababa is a growing access hub on the African continent and the air services operated by Ethiopian Airlines are Irelands only direct flights to that continent. As such, this factors strongly in the evaluation of any application for 5th freedom services.

Ireland traditionally has a liberal aviation policy and remains positively disposed towards the development of competitive air services. In that context, my Department will continue to consider applications for fifth freedom air traffic rights under bilateral air services agreements, on a case-by-case basis.