Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has received confirmation that SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) will operate a new twice weekly service from Stockholm to Shannon from August until October next year.

Deputy Carey said that the latest expansion of the Shannon route network was a further endorsement of his successful campaign to secure the airport’s independence from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

“It’s hard to believe that Shannon has been operating as independent entity for less than three years and this latest announcement means that the airport has connections to 36 destinations in 11 countries. That’s the most obvious indicator that the people who maintained that Shannon couldn’t survive on its own had seriously underestimated the ability and resilience of the airport’s workforce.

“With the current uncertainly over Brexit, it is heartening to see an expansion of Shannon’s links to the European mainland. It has the potential to bring thousands of Swedish holidaymakers to Clare and the West of Ireland”, he explained.

The retention of the lower 9 per cent VAT rate for the tourism and hospitality sector in Budget 2016 should also play a critical role in increasing visitor numbers to the region.

“The importance of convenient, direct, non-stop flights to Shannon cannot be overstated as they are absolutely critical to the tourism industry in Clare and the greater Shannon region.

“Tourism Ireland regards the Nordic Region as an important market for tourism to Ireland, with the latest CSO figures indicating growth of about 3.5 per cent from January to August next year”, Deputy Carey concluded.