Aran islanders warn of impact if air services curtailed

Air links to Aran Islands compare favourably to other public air services

The Save our Air Service Committee, from left front: Prof Micheal O’Cinneide, NUI Galway,  Daithi O’Briain, postgraduate student, who prepared the study; Tarlach de Blacam, representing Inis Meain; at back: Cathy Ní Ghoill, representing Inis Mor; and Paddy Crowe, Inis Oir. Photograph: Dave Meehan

The Save our Air Service Committee, from left front: Prof Micheal O’Cinneide, NUI Galway, Daithi O’Briain, postgraduate student, who prepared the study; Tarlach de Blacam, representing Inis Meain; at back: Cathy Ní Ghoill, representing Inis Mor; and Paddy Crowe, Inis Oir. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 


Aran islanders have warned of depopulation, loss of jobs and a negative impact on the Irish language if their daily air link to the mainland is discontinued or curtailed.

A value-for-money review of the air service is being carried out for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The Save Our Air Service committee, comprising residents from the three Galway islands, yesterday presented the case for retaining the 43-year-old air link. The scheduled Public Service Obligation (PSO) air service costs just over €1.8 million annually.

The island committee, which has also made its case in Europe, said this compares favourably to other PSOs, such as that for Kerry airport which averages €5,236,999 annually – based on a figure given in a Dáil reply.

The study commissioned by the islanders was undertaken by postgraduate student Daithí Ó Briain, assisted and advised by Prof Micheál Ó Cinnéide of NUI Galway.


Social value
Mr Ó Briain interviewed islanders on the social and economic value of the air service, which involves three daily return flights to and from Inis Mór on weekdays and two return flights at weekends. Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr have two daily PSO return flights every day. Some ferry services also receive an annual subsidy.

The islanders’ study says the current PSO links serve a “vital purpose”.

The average State subsidy for transport among 1,910 people living on the most populated offshore islands is about €2,740 a head.

The study notes that the cost for Aran islanders is €2,737 a head, compared to €3,399 on Tory off Donegal.