Tuesday, 22 November 2016
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
543. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the PSO for regional airports is being reviewed by his Department; if Sligo Airport can be included in this review in view of the fact that the condition of the main road serving Sligo is putting many tourists off travelling to County Sligo and the west via road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36150/16]
As the Deputy will be aware, two air routes are currently subject to PSO arrangements and there are no plans to extend the PSO regime to any other routes, including Sligo Airport.
A review was undertaken recently into the performance of the operator of the air services on those two routes as provided for under the PSO contract and the contract has been extended for a third year, from 31 January 2017 to 31 January 2018.
A Government decision was taken in 2011 to cease Exchequer subsidies for four PSO routes linking Dublin with the airports in Galway, Sligo, Knock and Derry. That decision followed on from the recommendations of a Value for Money Review on Exchequer support for the Regional Airports Programme which took into account a number of factors including the performance of the services and the requirement to make best use of scarce Exchequer resources. As a result, the only funding available from the Exchequer to support air services is that devoted to our two remaining PSO routes, namely Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin. In the circumstances it is not my intention to revisit that decision.
As regards the road network serving Sligo, the upgrade of the N4 from Collooney to Castlebaldwin was included in the Capital Plan and advance works are being progressed at present.