All Irish internal airline flights, including the Aer Arann service from Sligo to Dublin airport received a severe shock recently when the Irish Government announced it was to scrap the airport’s Public Service Obligation subsidies from July of 2011.
The ruling will also affect flights on the Derry-Dublin, Galway-Dublin and the Knock-Dublin routes, effectively putting a number of Ireland‘s regional airports out of business.
The Public Service Obligation’s are subsidies paid to airlines to operate unprofitable routes to regions in rural Ireland, with Aer Arann, the airline servicing Sligo, Derry, Galway and Knock airports for the last ten years, having received €108 million in the last six years to continue these services nationwide, during which time Aer Arann have carried a total of six million passengers.
This ruling will spell disaster for tourism in the whole western half of Ireland and for the Sligo region in particular, as without the subsidies Aer Arann will no longer be able to provide flights to any of these airports.
This will have a knock-on effect of possibly forcing Aer Arann out of business, AND, to force the board of Sligo Airport to lay off staff at the airport, perhaps even forcing the complete closure of the airport as a going concern.
Transport Minister Noel Dempsey said recently that “improved rail and road services meant they were withdrawing the so-called public service obligation (PSO) contracts on the four routes in July of 2011”.