The decision by Aer Lingus to discontinue the Shannon to Heathrow service has created a storm of protest in the Mid West. Shannon Development has called an emergency meeting of business, tourism and community leaders in the region to agree a response to the Aer Lingus decision to end its Shannon to Heathrow service.
The decision to privatize Aer Lingus is now seen with jaundiced eyes in many tourist and business circles. The Government now holds just a 25% share of the company. As a conservative on economic matters I have never agreed with the privatization of essential services such as transport in an island economy.
There is now a probability of job losses at companies such as Element Six Ltd at Shannon.
Fine Gael Limerick East Deputy Michael Noonan said today (Wednesday):
"I have issued today an invitation to the Chief Executive of British Airways, Mr. Willie Walsh, to provide a Shannon-Heathrow service to replace the service being discontinued by Aer Lingus.
"I attach a copy of the open letter of invitation to Mr. Walsh."
Note:see transcript of letter below
08 August 2007
Mr. Willie Walsh,Chief Executive,British Airways,Waterside (HCB3),PO Box 365,Harmondsworth, UB7 OGB,United Kingdom
Dear Mr. Walsh,
I wish to invite British Airways to provide a service between Shannon and Heathrow.
The decision by Aer Lingus to withdraw its Shannon-Heathrow service is a devastating blow to the Mid-West Region. The region has, over the years, attracted very significant inward investment leading to the creation of thousands of jobs. The attractiveness of the region to industry however, is largely dependent on daily transatlantic flights and the Shannon-Heathrow connection.
The Aer Lingus flights, were I understand, operating profitably, and as you know, they also served as feeder flights for British Airways overseas flights.
I know that this invitation, which I am extending to you, has the support of the business community in the region and indeed the support of the wider public, and I am writing to you by way of open letter to rally this support further. I would be grateful if you would give this invitation careful consideration on commercial grounds, with a view to opening discussions with the Shannon Airport Authority at the earliest possible date.
Yours sincerely,MICHAEL NOONAN, T.D.