Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Saving a Counter weight to Dublin

Looking through the Party News on Irish Election .com I find no mention of the new IBEC survey about the Mid-West and the effect of the open skies policy on Shannon. For you who have missed the news basically from excellent the Limerick Blogger.
Shannon airport itself reckons it will lose 30% of its transatlantic business. According to the survey of 123 businesses who responded 25 of those expressed strong concerns that a reduction in flights could trigger decisions to re-locate from Ireland. Fears have also been expressed that parent companies may stop any further investment in existing businesses.

We hear much from all the parties of the need to create a counter-weight to the development of Dublin. This is not going to happen in Cavan (Sorry Cavan people) it is going to happen basically in Cork and Limerick. Galway while it has much infrastructure and indeed is a fine city it lacks two important things that Cork and Limerick have. Major Ports and airports. Cork has deepest natural harbour and Foynes just outside Limerick is Ireland’s largest bulk cargo handler. Also both of the airports are quiet busy with flights to America and to the continent.

From a markets point of view it could be said that Dublin is the dominate player in the market with almost a monopoly and is in need of competition. To attract companies away from Dublin you are not going to be able to bring them to Athlone. Only Limerick and Cork offer the competing infrastructures of airports and ports that companies need.

But to place Limerick and Cork into a position where it can compete with Dublin and slow down Dublin’s sprawl. The airports need to be better serviced. The bus services to and from the Airports need to be top notch. Yet the buses run at intervals of an hour at some stages. Once a flight hits the ground there should be a bus waiting to take the passengers away and regular buses to the airport. Also Shannon Airport is I believe about 3 miles from a train line. Why is a train line not being built to place a train station in the airport. Ireland must be the only country in Europe that does not have a train link any the airport. If we can build bypasses of every small town in Ireland surely we can build a train line to Shannon Airport.

Damien Clancy, president of IBEC, Mid West said

The key message of this report, encapsulating the views of companies in Limerick, Clare, North Tipperary and Galway, is that 'Ireland-US Open Skies' can be an opportunity if Shannon International Airport becomes a fully resourced, debt-free and independent entity, is properly financed and cost competitive so as to provide a full range of supports for airlines towards the development of new scheduled transatlantic services on a year round basis thereby substantially growing passenger throughput


But instead as usual in this country we get reactive rather then pro-active policy ( I hate that phrase but what else can I do) and while there are supposed to be plans for all this in Transport 21 it is years down the line. By that time if the government does not act, then companies will leave the mid west and leave the government one less counter-weight to Dublin.

Also Shannon airport is also a very passionate issue in the Mid-West the ending of the Shannon stop over brought crowds on to the streets I can’t remember child care ever doing that. What ever party can come up with a good policy to save Shannon will not only be taking a step in the right direction to slow down Dublin’s relentless march west they will also be gaining strong support in a number of constituencies.


Anonymous said...

Also Shannon airport is also a very passionate issue in the Mid-West...

As can be seen from Brian Meaney's (Green Party Clare County Councillor) pragmatic support for US troops passing through Shannon Airport despite his pary's opposition.

He says his support is a principled one based on the fact that if the US pulled out of Iraq then there would be civil war. However, it's more likely that, for a potential canditate in the Clare constituency in the next General Election, opposition to anything that benefits Shannon Airport, no matter how principled, is a no-no.

Anonymous said...

Everyone was out on the streets of Limerick to save ballsbridge hospital too, but that closed anyway.

Open skies and a rail link are the way to go, together with the atlantic coridoor. But the airport also needs a major overhaul of work practices and employment.

From talking to people well acquainted with how things are run there, it is vastly over staffed (by a factor of about three), suffering from nepotism, excessive unionisation, ancient work practices and utter incompetence in some areas.

This is why Aer Lingus have had problems introducing FastPass check in in Shannon