Direct international air access is essential to the economy of the Western Region. For enterprises, quality transport links between producers, consumers and suppliers are needed to trade efficiently. Without good international connections, companies in the Region are at a competitive disadvantage compared to others, both within and outside Ireland. Additionally, the ability of the Region to attract new investment is hampered.
Air is the preferred form of travel for most tourists, with 82% of overseas visitors to the West arriving in Ireland by air. The value of direct international air access in supporting regional tourism is significant. Data suggests that those arriving into a Western airport are more valuable as they spend more time in the area. The Western region’s airports offer essential access for incoming visitors, linking into the 2,500 km Wild Atlantic Way route. Ireland West Airport Knock and Donegal airport are the main access points to the Western and Northern sections; Shannon airport to the Southern part.
Connectivity is vital for industry and tourism in the West of Ireland. Shannon airport is the only airport on the Western seaboard with hub connectivity via London Heathrow, although Ireland West Airport Knock has connections to other London airports. There are no other direct links from Shannon or Ireland West Airport to other European hubs. In the event of a decision to sell its shareholding, it is critical that the Government ensures that Shannon and Ireland West Airport maintain existing levels of connectivity to Europe and the US.
The two international airports located in the Western Region; Shannon and Ireland West Airport Knock, along with Donegal regional airport are critical elements of the transport infrastructure of the Western Region. The WDC has previously made a submission to the Department of Transport see here, setting out its views on the formulation of the forthcoming National Aviation Policy, expected later this year.