The decision by Aer Lingus to reverse its decision to close permanently its base at Shannon Airport and lay off staff temporarily at Cork Airport contradicts national policy on regional redevelopment, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
He called on the airline to reverse its decision and promised action to restore international air travel. The Government will next week consider measures on aviation with a decision by Cabinet expected on Tuesday.
TDs in the Dáil who represent constituencies in which the airports are located appealed for intervention as they condemned the decision.
Mr Martin’s Fianna Fáil party colleague, Limerick TD Willie O’Dea, demanded to know what the Government is going to do. Mr O’Dea said he deplored the decision.
He asked the Taoiseach what is being done to protect landing slots linking Shannon to destinations in the United States and to Heathrow Airport.
Fine Gael Clare TD Joe Carey said negotiations on a financial package for Aer Lingus is an opportunity to safeguard Shannon's future. He called on the airline to reverse its decisions and said they contradict national policy on balanced regional development with hubs around Limerick and Cork.
He noted, however, that the majority of air travel had been through Dublin Airport for several years.
Mr Martin also acknowledged TDs’ calls for international travel to be immediately reopened as Covid-19 restrictions ease.
“No effort will be spared to get international travel re-established. Next week we’ll have proposals on that going before the Government,” he said.