Aer Arann takes legal challenge over contract loss

A West of Ireland-based air service is challenging in the High Court the State’s decision to award the Aran Islands contract to a rival service.

Aer Arann Islands, which last month lost its contract to provide flights to the Aran Islands, is contesting that the tender submitted by Executive Helicopter Maintenance Ltd was the most economically advantageous one.

Michael Cush SC, for Aer Arann Islands, said a four-year contract until 2019 between the State and Executive Helicopters, which was due to start its services on October 1, had not been signed yet. Since Executive Helicopters was named as the preferred tender by the Minister of the Gaeltacht, issues had arisen over the availability of Galway Airport for helicopter flights, allegedly delaying the handover process.

Aer Arann Islands public service contract provides flights from Inverin in Connemara to the Aran Islands.

During an ex-parte (one side only) application, Mr Cush, who appeared with Darren Lehane, said the State had offered Aer Arann Islands an extension of its contract until February next. In its action against the minister; the Office of Government Procurement, which operated the tender process, and Executive Helicopters, Aer Arann Islands alleged that the decision to award the contact to Executive Helicopter was made without any proper tender process.

Mr Justice Henry Abbott ordered the State be put on notice of the application, which he adjourned to next week.


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