Government putting ‘money on table’ to incentivise airlines to restore routes

Tánaiste says Government has ‘hierarchy of routes that are most important’

Mr Varadkar was responding to Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell in the wake of the decision by US president Joe Biden to restore transatlantic flights. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

Mr Varadkar was responding to Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell in the wake of the decision by US president Joe Biden to restore transatlantic flights. Photograph: Cathal McNaughton/Reuters

 

The Government is willing to “put money on the table” to incentivise airlines to restore routes that were cancelled during the pandemic, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

He said that “we have in our mind a hierarchy of routes that are most important”.

Mr Varadkar was responding to Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell in the wake of the decision by US president Joe Biden to restore transatlantic flights.

Mr O’Donnell said that the New York and Boston routes were key destinations for Shannon, along with the Heathrow route which had been restored.

He asked the Tánaiste about funding for strategic routes including Boston and New York.

“Are discussions ongoing with Aer Lingus and what supports will be provided to airlines and to Shannon?” he asked.

Mr Varadkar welcomed the return of the Shannon Heathrow route. “I welcome President Biden’s announcement that fully vaccinated people from Europe will be able to travel to the US.

“That allows us to get routes from Dublin and Shannon up and running again,” he added.

A third of airline routes across the world were cancelled during the pandemic, a trend that was mirrored in Ireland where the direct effects included the collapse of Stobart Air, which affected internal Aer Lingus flights and routes to the UK.

He said he could not get into any details about discussions with individual airlines but he added: “I can say the Government will be willing to put money on the table to incentivise airlines to restore routes that were lost during the pandemic.

“We have in our mind a hierarchy of routes that are most important, and I don’t think the deputy is too far off the mark in that regard.”