Ryanair operation of Dublin-Kerry may have its ups and downs

Cantillon: Tralee Chamber fears Ryanair will pull out if service proves uncommercial

 Ryanair will fly once a day from each airport, Dublin and Kerry, until September 1st, when it will increase it to twice daily.   Photograph: Colin Keegan

Ryanair will fly once a day from each airport, Dublin and Kerry, until September 1st, when it will increase it to twice daily. Photograph: Colin Keegan

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Local groups in the southwest have misgivings about the news that Ryanair will fly the Dublin-Kerry airport service lost when Stobart Air folded in June. The carrier this week pledged to operate the route from July 28th without the State subsidy given to the previous incumbent, saving taxpayers €3.95 million.

However, this is one of the points with which Kerry business people have a problem. Ken Tobin, chief executive of Tralee Chamber, indicated that they fear that if the service does not prove commercial, Ryanair will pull out.

Tobin suggested this could create a second problem, the loss of the route’s public service status, which allows the Government to subsidise the flights, which would otherwise breach EU rules banning state aid.

‘In the wings’

In a statement cautiously welcoming the award of the contract to fly the service to Ryanair, Tralee Chamber called on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to keep the public service support “in the wings” in case the airline decides to pull out.

The chamber’s call echoed concerns raised this week by Killarney hotelier and Kerry airport board member Tom Randles. He argued that it would have been better to award the contract, with the full public service obligation subsidy, to another airline flying smaller planes than the Boeings that Ryanair will use.

He and the chamber also want a twice-daily service from the start, while Ryanair will fly once a day from each airport, Dublin and Kerry, until September 1st, when it will up this to twice daily.

Stobart deal

Ryanair has said that the route’s commercial viability depends on both Dublin and Kerry airports cutting their charges, something the Minister indicated the parties should work out themselves. The carrier has pledged to operate the service for at least seven months, to the point at which the original deal with Stobart would have ended.

In the meantime, the Department of Transport will seek bids from any airline, not just Ryanair, interested in taking on a longer-term deal after the seven months are up. That will allow all parties – Government, Kerry airport, airlines and locals – to revisit the issue.

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