O’Leary claims Shannon ‘dying on its feet’ as Ryanair cuts flights by 21%

TROUBLED Shannon Airport was delivered another hammer blow yesterday with Ryanair dropping more flights, reducing its destinations by 21% to six from a high of 35 two years ago.

Michael O’Leary said Shannon was now dying on its feet having been the fastest growing airport in Europe between 2004 and 2008. He blamed Government charges and the “dead hand” management by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) of the airport. Mr O’Leary told a press conference in Limerick that from November 1, the Shannon-Paris route will be closed and there will be major reductions in the Shannon-Gatwick and Shannon-Stansted services. This, he said, will reduce Ryanair passenger numbers through Shannon from 480,000 in 2010 to a projected 380,000 next year with Ryanair routes served from Shannon falling from 35 to six over the past four years.

Spelling out the devastation of passenger numbers of Shannon, Mr O’Leary said: “In the year to April 2009, before the Government’s €10 tourist tax, Ryanair was on track to deliver 1.9 million passengers at Shannon. Now just two years later, following the tourist tax and a 33% price hike at Shannon, Ryanair’s traffic will fall to less than 400,000 next year, one fifth what Ryanair was delivering to Shannon in 2009. Shannon is worse than terminal. Shannon is dead unless these government policies are reversed.” Due to the major withdrawal of Ryanair services, overall passenger numbers at Shannon have fallen from 3.3 million in 2005 to a projected figure of 1.6m this year. Of the 2.7m passengers who used Shannon in 2009, up to 1.9m flew with Ryanair.

Mr O’Leary accused the Government and the DAA monopoly of destroying Irish air traffic, tourism and jobs. He said rising airport fees were being introduced to prop up the DAA which he claimed is now financially insolvent. He said: “Traffic at Dublin, Cork and Shannon has plunged by 33% from over 30m to just 20m passengers. Ireland has lost 10m air passengers, over 10,000 jobs in airport and related services and over €1 billion of lost tourism and visitor spend annually.”

Mayor of Clare Councillor Christy Curtin also called on Shannon Airport Authority chairman Brian O’Connell to spell out what plans they have for replacing the business lost as a result of Ryanair’s announcement.

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