Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has challenged more airlines to follow suit following the news that Ryanair is to add eight new routes to continental Europe from Shannon Airport today.
The deal, which promises 300,000 new seats per annum, represents passenger growth of almost 15% at Shannon Airport next year.
The new routes will be to Berlin, Munich, Paris, Warsaw, Krakow, Faro, Fuerteventura (Canaries) and Nice. Services on the Shannon-Stansted route will also increase.
“Now that the Government has responded to the airlines and reduced the travel tax to €0, I want to see further announcements of this kind, not just at Shannon and not just by Ryanair," said Minister Varadkar.
“This announcement of eight new routes by Ryanair is further evidence of the success of the Government's decision to break up the State airport monopoly, and allow Shannon Airport to compete on its own and cut its own deals.
“After years of sustained contraction, it looks like Shannon Airport has finally halted the dramatic downward slide of the previous five years.
“The airport is predicting that this year’s outturn will be on a par with last year’s total of 1.39 million passengers, or even marginally above that.
“That would be a major achievement for the airport in its first year of independence from the DAA. Having halted the dramatic downward slide of the previous five years, this announcement by Ryanair helps the airport to reverse that trend.”
“The scrapping of the air travel tax will help restore Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness to overseas visitors from the UK and Continental Europe in particular,” said Ryanair’s Michael Cawley.
“Having met with all five of the main Irish airports, we hope to announce further new route and traffic growth plans over the coming weeks.”
Shannon Airport CEO, Neil Pakey said: “We are delighted that Ryanair have shown real commitment to the Shannon Region in announcing 8 new European routes for 2014, in addition to the 10 already served from Shannon. The timing of this announcement couldn’t be better for inbound visitors in particular, given the focus next year on the Wild Atlantic Way and on Limerick as the City of Culture.”
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said: “Today’s announcement is wonderful news for tourism to the West of Ireland.
“We already work very closely with Ryanair and we look forward to co-operating with them to maximise the promotion of these new flights from Germany and France to Shannon.
“As an island, the importance of convenient, direct, non-stop flights cannot be overstated – they are absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism.
“Tourism Ireland is committed to working with Ryanair, Shannon Airport and other tourism interests, through co-operative marketing, to drive demand for these flights to Shannon – as we work with other carriers and partners to promote and help maintain vital routes and services to the island.”