Ryanair has become the latest airline to close its base at Shannon Airport. The announcement came on Thursday morning following Budget Day 2021. 

    In August, Delta Air Lines made the decision not to resume its seasonal services to New York. This follows a statement from United Airlines who also decided not to relaunch its seasonal links with Shannon. 

    Ryanair’s base at Shannon will be closed for the winter season, with only 50% of their regular flights in operation. With eight Ryanair flights a week operating out of Shannon for the foreseeable future, Ryanair will temporarily lay off its staff.

    CEO of Shannon Airport, Mary Considine, hopes that there will be supports in place to allow Ryanair to return to Shannon in March 2021. She said that the recent announcements were “very disappointing news for the airport but (also) for the entire region”. 

    Tourism East Clare said that the withdrawal of airlines from Shannon Airport will have a “detrimental impact on tourism across East Clare and the entire Mid-West region”.

    Tourism plays an essential role in the East Clare region with over one million people visiting County Clare annually. Before the nationwide lockdown in March, East Clare had anticipated 420,000 visitors in 2020.

    Shannon Airport has played a crucial role in supporting tourism in the Mid-West region since the 1960s. In 2018, the airport brought an additional 1.7 million visitors to the area. 

      “Its importance can’t be overstated. It is so important to business, and to tourism, it supports 46,000 jobs in the Mid-West and western region” said Joe Carey, a Fine Gael TD for Clare.

      He said that Ryanair’s decision “will further reduce our connectivity as a region”.

      The Ryanair announcement came after an additional €5million was allocated to Shannon Airport in the 2021 Budget on Tuesday. This allocation of funding was welcomed, with many praising the move.

      “This funding for capital expenditure is very welcome and will assist us as we navigate our way through this unprecedented global crisis which has seen our airport passenger numbers down 91% last month,” a Shannon Group spokesperson said.

      Others felt that the government could do more to assist the communities affected by the lack of flights in and out of Shannon Airport. 

      “This (funding) will give the airport some much needed financial breathing space, but it alone will not be enough for the airport. Further investment and support will be required,” said Cathal Crowe, a Fianna Fail TD for Clare. 

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