Domestic air routes to be restored by mid July, says Minister

Confidence that operators will be found to run service until new contract starts

Aer Lingus has taken over five of the routes previously operated by Stobart Air which collapsed at the weekend.

Aer Lingus has taken over five of the routes previously operated by Stobart Air which collapsed at the weekend.

 

Regional flights to Donegal and Kerry should resume by the middle of July, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has said.

The Green Party leader said the Government has been in contact with a number of different airlines about restoring routes linking the counties with Dublin after the collapse of Stobart Air.

Both routes are subsidised by the State under Public Service Obligation (PSO) contracts.

Under EU rules, the Government is allowed to make arrangements to continue axed services for seven months before renegotiating a four year PSO contract, Mr Ryan told RTÉ radio.

Airlines interested in taking over the two routes are to be approached next week before a “judgment call” is made on the most suitable operators.

Mr Ryan said he expects them to be in place by “mid-July”.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Transport said it “will launch an emergency procurement process this week with a view to restoring air services linking Dublin with Donegal and Kerry Airports as quickly as possible. Ministers Ryan and Naughton briefed the cabinet on the plans this morning.

“The department will issue a request for quotes directly to airlines in the coming days, in accordance with applicable EU rules on air service Public Service Obligations, and taking account of legal advice.

“It is anticipated that the emergency procurement process will be completed by early July, with a view to services being restarted by the new operator(s) as soon as possible thereafter. The contract will be subject to a maximum term of 7 months and will operate in accordance with EU law.

“In tandem, the department will launch a procurement process for a maximum of 4 years for the continued provision of the services, which will apply after the temporary contract has expired. This will mitigate against any disruption to these services once the emergency contract expires.”