Ryanair chief shoots down airport rail link proposal

DEVELOPING a spur railway connecting Shannon Airport to the main Limerick/Ennis line would be a waste of money, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary declared yesterday.

He said airports need good road access and not rail links.

“Railways don’t work in servicing airports,” he said.

He also dismissed the proposed rail link from St Stephen’s Green to Dublin Airport.

Mr O’Leary was speaking at the Clarion Hotel in Limerick where he announced five new routes from Shannon, bringing to 24 the destinations served by Ryanair at the airport.

Mr O’Leary said: “Shannon is the fastest growing regional airport in Europe and Ryanair’s expansion makes Shannon one of the best served regions of its size anywhere in Europe. It is a major boost to tourism and business in the mid-west, bringing 240 new jobs, 240,000 additional passengers and €55 million tourism spend.”

To serve Ryanair’s increased flights at Shannon, a fourth Boeing 737-800 will be based there.

The five new routes which will come into operation next October will fly to Biarritz, Carcassonne, Faro, Krakow and Venice.

Ryanair accounted for over one million of the record 3.3 million passengers at Shannon last year.

The airline has struck a deal with the Shannon authority for discounted landing charges on the basis that the airline grows its Shannon operation to two million passengers a year by 2010.

Pat Shanahan, Shannon Airport Authority chairman hailed yesterday’s announcement as a great boost for the airport and the region.

He said: “It further establishes Shannon as Ireland’s low-cost gateway.”

Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland said Europe was the powerhouse of increased tourists to this country.

Shannon also unveiled its redesigned website, www.shannonairport.com.

Martin Moloney, Shannon Airport director said: “This website aims to become an invaluable resource for anyone considering taking a trip from the west of Ireland as it provides information on all aspects of travel to and from Shannon Airport.” Visitors to the site will be able to make bookings with their preferred airline or tour operator online.

Declan Power, Shannon Airport head of marketing said: “Our vision for the website is it will become the site of choice for consumers in the west of Ireland by providing a one-stop shop for flight bookings, holiday packages, destination information and direct access to hotels and car hire.”

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