Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Tuesday, 30 March 2021
Select Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport
Estimates for Public Services 2021
Vote 29 - Environment, Climate and Communications (Revised)
Vote 31 - Transport (Revised)
In respect of connectivity, the €26 million fund to which I referred earlier is compensation for businesses that have suffered damages due to Covid-19. This will enable airports to be able to work directly with airlines to attract them, to put route incentives in place, to charge rebates and work with the airlines on their needs because, obviously, they must respond to the market and market demand. What I wanted to do, as Minister of State with responsibility for this area, was to enable our airports because they are commercial entities and know their business very well. Covid-19 was not their fault. Many of them, Shannon included, were working very well in advance of this pandemic hitting. That is part of this process regarding that roadmap and enabling them.
Like many airports, Shannon Airport is going through a very difficult time. We have put in place €32.1 million for Shannon and Cork Airports. The European Commission has approved the €26 million. It is important to mention, and I know the Deputy has met with that group, that there is really strong stakeholder engagement with chambers of commerce in that region. There is a huge tourism stakeholder group there. I know marketing funds are available as well. It is stakeholder groups like the ones mentioned by the Deputy that can help to draw on marketing funds to attract airlines to the mid-west region. That is part of it as well. There will be a number of approaches relating to the recovery and that balance. We can certainly approach airlines to ask them to fly to Shannon and Cork Airports but, ultimately, it is a commercial decision for them. There are other avenues with regard to tourism marketing funds, which is what we do very well.