Ryanair confirmed on Wednesday that it will fly the Dublin-Kerry service, which was lost when Stobart Air ceased trading, clearing confusion that followed an announcement last week.
Stobart's closure prompted the Government to seek bids from airlines to provide State-subsidised services between Dublin and Kerry and Donegal that ended when the carrier wound up in June.
Ryanair said it would operate the Kerry route on a commercial basis, saving taxpayers €3.95 million, beginning on July 28th, with a once-a-day service both ways. This will rise to twice daily from September 1st.
Wednesday's announcement partly confirmed a Government communication on Friday that sparked a row between Ryanair and the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan.
He issued a statement saying the Government had accepted Ryanair’s offer to fly the route twice daily without subsidies, from July 19th.
However, the airline responded that this was inaccurate and premature, as the pair had not reached agreement.
Mr Ryan subsequently released correspondence showing that Ryanair offered to provide the service on July 8th and that he wrote accepting this on Friday, July 9th.
Ryanair will use one of its Boeing 737-800s on the route. The airline said its service would ultimately quadruple seats on the service to 5,000 a week.
However, Eddie Wilson, chief executive of the group's biggest carrier, Ryanair DAC, cautioned that it would need lower costs at Dublin and Kerry airports to make it commercially viable.
He pointed out that last year’s aviation taskforce recommended cutting airport charges.
Mr Wilson said that this remained “unactioned” by Mr Ryan more than 12 months after it was submitted to him.
He noted that Ryanair already flew from Kerry to six destinations in Britain, Spain and Portugal.
“We hope to build on that success to make this unsubsidised commercial service between Kerry and Dublin viable for the long term,” Mr Wilson said.
He added: "We will be offering the Kerry football team free flights to Dublin in late August where we hope they will meet – and beat – Dublin in this year's All-Ireland Final."
The Government is in talks with a preferred bidder for the Dublin-Donegal service, but has not named the airline involved.
Aer Lingus indicated last month that it would be prepared to provide that service subject to appropriate public service obligation terms.
Mr Ryan and his Minister of State colleague, Hildegarde Naughton, said Ryanair had confirmed that it would begin the Dublin-Kerry flights on July 28th.
“Last week Ryanair confirmed to the department that it would fly the route starting on July 19th but has since advised that a shortage of aircraft and crew means it needs to delay the introduction of the service,” they said.
The Ministers added that they looked forward to the return of what would be an improved Dublin-Kerry service.