Free flights: how Shannon gave Ryanair a lift

DR CORMAC MURPHY (Irish Examiner letters, Feb 19) accuses Aer Rianta of “penny-pinching tactics” in terms of recent developments with Ryanair at Shannon Airport.

This view seems to arise from Shannon’s offer of a generously discounted airport charge of 4.80 per passenger from next May on Ryanair flights from Shannon to Frankfurt/Hahn.

Perhaps the good doctor is not aware that Shannon Airport has provided a free service to Ryanair over the past three years to help increase passenger numbers on this particular route. This subsidy, which Ryanair knew from the beginning would end this year, cost Shannon 1.75 million.

Perhaps Dr Murphy is also unaware that the standard charges at Shannon are significantly below the maximum permitted by the Commission for Aviation Regulation. These charges are required to pay for the broad range of services provided at Shannon The refusal by one airline customer indefinitely to make any reasonable contribution towards the cost of these services not only flies in the face of normal business practice (even in medicine) but also penalises other users of the airport who must then bear a disproportionate share.

Dr Murphy may also be unaware that the passenger service charge, which Ryanair itself says it will pay to Kerry Airport for its flights to Frankfurt/Hahn, amounts to 6 per passenger.

So much for Ryanair’s argument that it was the introduction of discounted air port charges at Shannon which forced them to move the Frankfurt flights.

The charge it will pay at Kerry is significantly higher than that offered by Shannon from May, and that after three years of zero charges.

So much, too, for the argument espoused by Ryanair and Dr Murphy that the introduction of charges at Shannon threatens “the whole concept of low-cost air travel”. There seems no such threat from the higher charge which the airline has agreed to pay at Kerry airport. Shannon management and staff share Dr Murphy’s view of the economic benefits of encouraging the greatest possible number of European visitors to these shores.

That is why Shannon was prepared to bear such a heavy cost over the first three years of the Ryanair service to Frankfurt and why it made a further three-year offer of discounted charges to the airline.

That is why it is currently making every effort to encourage new airline carriers to deliver the same tourism benefits to the region. Ryanair recently reversed its stated policy not to fly new routes out of Dublin because of its so-called difficulties with Aer Rianta over airport charges. It can only be deduced that the airline is now prepared to recognise the value it receives at Dublin.

We would like to assure Dr Murphy that Ryanair, for all its statements to the contrary, is well aware that the same value and quality of service is available at Shannon.

Vincent Wall,

Director of Communications,

Aer Rianta,

Dublin Airport.

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