Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus has confirmed it will complete a comprehensive review of its services from Dublin and Shannon airports within four weeks.
The review was ordered by Irish minister of stare Tony Killeen, who asked whether the development of services at Shannon Airport was being sacrificed to prop up operations at Dublin Airport.
Minister of State Killeen explained: “I am deeply concerned any proposed reduction of existing services will impact negatively on cabin crew and other staff at Aer Lingus’ Shannon base.
“Notwithstanding the difficulties for the airline in the current downturn, I did point out to Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller options which could be taken on the basis of passenger numbers and income on Shannon services appear to have been avoided to prop up Dublin operations.”
Aer Lingus announced plans to cut transatlantic services by 25 per cent last year “as a first step to right-sizing the business”.
The cuts included axing a service from Shannon Airport to Chicago, while routes from Dublin to Washington and San Francisco were also cut.
Earlier this week Aer Lingus confirmed operating losses quadrupled last year due to a collapse in fares.
The airline said operating losses mushroomed from €20 million to €81 million over financial 2009.
Future of Shannon Airport
In response Mr Mueller argued: “Aer Lingus remains committed to the Shannon region as an important part of the Aer Lingus network.
“Since my appointment I have visited the area several times and in addition to meeting our staff, I have met with a wide variety of business, tourism and airport interests.”
The airline’s chief executive said Aer Lingus had lost money every winter for the last ten years on the Shannon-New York route, and has made a profit over a full year in only two out of the last ten years.
“We must serve the markets where passenger demand exists,” added Mr Mueller.
“In this regard, we are currently carrying out a comprehensive review of our long-haul and short-haul network in the context of our short and medium term schedule planning.
“We will continue to work closely with the Shannon Airport Authority and the various tourism interests so that we can continue to serve Shannon and the wider region to the benefit of all stakeholders,” the airline chief concluded.