Welcoming the announcement that Aer Lingus will operate new routes from Shannon Airport to Paris and Barcelona next year, Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey said that improved connectivity to Europe would help the Mid West deal with the negative effects of Brexit.

Deputy Carey, who is Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Development, said he would continue to campaign for balanced regional development and Shannon would play a significant role in this.

“This is also of national significance because Shannon adds up to €3.6 billion to Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supports 43,700 jobs.

“The route development fund for airport’s outside Dublin announced in Budget 2020 has played a major role in securing the new services to Paris and Barcelona as well as the opening of a new route to Vienna that will be operated by Lauda Air next summer.

“€2.5 million is being made available from the fund this year and this is being allocated on a competitive basis to Shannon, Cork, Knock and the other regional airports. The fund will grow to €10 million over the next three years so it’s a significant development that should be harnessed for the benefit of the Mid-West Region

“Confirmation of three new services next year should help the airport return to a more positive trajectory after it was revealed that 2019 would see the end of six years of passenger growth at Shannon.

“It gives a more positive outlook for the challenges facing recently appointed Shannon Group chief executive Mary Considine who worked tirelessly to get these new routes on to the Shannon schedule at a difficult time for the airport and the aviation industry as a whole,” he added.

“It’s important that we build on this great start and convert the new routes to year-round services as well as delivering on some of the recommendations in the Copenhagen Economics report. Chief among these is the establishment of a major European Hub with the report concluding that if Shannon was to establish a frequent route to Frankfurt Airport with two flights every weekday and one flight on the weekend it would generate an additional €412 million in GDP,” Deputy Carey explained.