Minister for Labour Affairs Tony Killeen said today's approval of a draft Open Skies agreement between the EU and the US would help Shannon Airport “go from strength to strength”.
Mr Killeen added that the Co Clare airport would be well positioned to address the new challenges presented under the deal and would continue to experience growth in transatlantic and European business.
“Most of the US carriers recognise that there is business to the West of Ireland that they want a share of which they can only achieve by flying into Shannon,” he said.
“Some of the new gateways will also see Shannon as a potential hub particularly to Eastern Europe.
“With its own independent management Shannon will go from strength to strength in this new era of opportunity, as it has proven with the huge increase in passenger numbers and new services over the past three years.”
The Clare TD also criticised other Oireachtas members in the region for making what he described as “misleading” and “counterproductive” statements regarding Shannon Airport's competitiveness in an Open Skies era.
"The 'prophets of doom' who predicted the closure of Shannon with the major change of Status in 1993/94 were proven wrong, as they will again on this occasion,” he said.
“Shannon will win additional business and passengers from the new gateways and from the significant increase in US passengers who will now visit Ireland", he said.
He also claimed that the Government will play a role in developing the facility.
“The Government will support a package of measures to ensure that Shannon can compete in marketing terms on an equal footing with all others, not just in Ireland but also across Europe,” he said.
“Initiation of the customs pre-clearance facility will be a significant benefit in that regard and the Minister for Transport Martin Cullen has done some excellent work in ensuring its delivery.”