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Air Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 November 2021

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Questions (149)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

149. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Transport if his Department is working on a national policy to support and sustain air connectivity to Ireland’s regions. [53437/21]

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Written answers (Question to Transport)

Before the Covid-19 crisis, officials at the Department of Transport had commenced scoping work on a revised version of the National Aviation Policy. The principal goals of that policy are to enhance Ireland's connectivity, to foster the growth of aviation enterprise and to maximise the contribution of aviation to Ireland's sustainable economic growth and development. This work was paused during 2020 to focus on the fall-out for aviation from the global pandemic and the measures to promote recovery. Work on a new National Aviation Policy will begin again towards the end of the year.

The restoration of international connectivity and competitiveness is a priority for Government and in November 2020 a dedicated funding package for Irish aviation totalling €80 million was announced. As evidence of our continued commitment to the restoration of connectivity, on 12 October 2021 Government announced a further aviation funding package of €126 million. This includes -

- €90 million in support provided to Ireland’s State airports (Dublin, Cork and Shannon). The intention is that this fund, which is subject to state aid approval, will be distributed to the state airports in 2021 on a pro-rata basis based on 2019 passenger numbers. It will then be a matter for the airport authorities themselves to establish route incentives and appropriate charges rebates, the aim of which is to restore connectivity. It is anticipated that the provision of these incentives, by the airports to airlines, will have the desired effect of further stimulating the recovery of the aviation sector.

- €36 million will be provided in 2022 under the Regional Airports Programme (RAP) in 2022 to support regional airports and PSO Air services. Under the programme, €26 million is available under the programme in support of safety and security related current expenditure and PSO air services. €10 million will be provided for capital expenditure targeted at safety and security projects and those which support sustainability objectives, enabling these airports to identify and implement climate related efficiencies and build resilience against the likely impacts of climate change. Due to reduced passenger numbers, as a direct result of COVID, both Shannon and Cork Airports are eligible for supports under this Programme, along with Donegal, Ireland West and Kerry airports, in 2022.

Government also provides funding under the Regional Cooperative Market Access Scheme which is administered by Tourism Ireland. Funding available under this scheme has increased from €1.25m in 2019 to €3m in 2021.

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