Aer Lingus's decision is a direct result of privatisation
Speaking following media reports that Aer Lingus will seek to discontinue the direct Shannon - London Heathrow route Sinn Fein's Limerick representative Maurice Quinlivan said: "I am very concerned but unfortunately unsurprised to hear the news that Aer Lingus are planning to discontinue the direct Shannon to London Heathrow route. Shannon Airport is vital to the economy of the entire mid-west region and indeed the whole of the West of Ireland. The importance of the Heathrow route to local business and tourism should not be underestimated. Simply put, this route is of vital importance to Limerick's economy. It is a key route necessary for attracting and maintaining investment, for developing and sustaining tourism and is essential for the maintenance of family connections with the many Irish emigrants from this area who live in the West London catchment area. My main concern at the recent privatisation of Aer Lingus was that in order to maximise return for it's new shareholders routes out of Shannon would be discontinued in preference for routes, which they perceived to be more profitable ones. It seems now that this has unfortunately come to pass. Following privatisation the airline now has no duty but to maximise profits for it's shareholders."
Quinlivan outlines Sinn Féin's concern: "Aer Lingus's recent commitment to Shannon is very worrying and questionable. Aer Lingus have developed no new non-US routes out of Shannon in at least the last 6 years. I am very concerned that this will be the start of the total withdrawal of Aer Lingus from Shannon. And following the introduction of the open skies policy we will see a total Aer Lingus disengagement from Shannon Airport in the not too distant future. This decision on the Heathrow route if confirmed could prove very detrimental to our local economy and will make it difficult to attract tourism and future investment. Direct jobs will also be lost at the airport. We are a small island nation we need a national airline, one that will play a dynamic role in the national and local economy ensuring we have adequate cargo and freight routes as well. I would urge Aer Lingus even at this late stage to reconsider the plan to discontinue this very busy, popular, necessary and profitable route and to maintain this vital service." ENDS