Dáil Éireann - Volume 372 - 14 May, 1987

Ceisteanna-Questions. Oral Answers. - Air Fare Levels.

8. Mr. Cullen asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the percentage reductions on the current unrestricted fare levels proposed by Ryanair in their applications to serve Cork-London, Shannon-London, Dublin-Manchester, Dublin-Paris and Amsterdam; if he will overturn the decision of his predecessor to veto these applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

[2034] Mr. Wilson: I recently announced that I had granted approval in principle to Ryanair to commence scheduled services on the Cork and Shannon to Luton routes and on the Dublin to Manchester route with low unrestricted fares. My decision was taken in the light of the need to stimulate inbound tourism. The approval is, of course, subject to the agreement, which has been sought, of the UK authorities and to Ryanair satisfying the technical requirements of my Department. Ryanair hope to start service on these new routes next month.

I am at present considering an application from Ryanair to operate services between Dublin and Beauvais-Tille, which is about 40 miles from Paris, and will make a decision in the matter as soon as possible.

With regard to Dublin-Amsterdam, the position is that in the light of Ryanair's association with London European Airways, which is expected to commence scheduled operations on the Luton-Amsterdam and Luton-Brussels routes later this month and which will link up with Ryanair services to Luton ex Ireland, the company have not renewed their application to operate services between Dublin and Amsterdam. With your permission a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to circulate, for incorporation in the Official Report, a table showing a comparison of the Ryanair proposed fares and the current unrestricted fares on the routes Cork-Luton, Shannon-Luton, Dublin-Manchester and Dublin-Paris, Beauvais-Tille.

TABLE

Comparison between Ryanair Fares and Current Unrestricted Fares ex Ireland

Route

Ryanair Current Unrestricted (Return) Fare

Current Unrestricted Return Fare

% Reductions

IR£

IR£

Cork-London

119

240*

218†

Aer Lingus

50.4

45.4

British Arways

Dan Air

Shannon-London

119

240*

Aer Lingus

50.4

British Airways

Dublin-Manchester

  79

188*

Aer Lingus

58   

British Airways

Dublin-Paris

159

460*

Aer Lingus

65.5

448†

Air France

64.5

* Executive Fares

† Economy Fares

[2035] Aer Lingus, British Airways and Dan Air provide a wide range of lower promotional fares on the foregoing routes, with various conditions attaching.

In addition, I have recently authorised the introduction by Aer Lingus and Ryanair of the following special inbound promotional fares, as part of the “Ireland in '87” tourism package.

Return Fares

Aer Lingus

Ryanair*

IR£

IR£

London to Cork

67

68

London to Shannon

67

68

Manchester to Dublin

58

58

Paris to Dublin

177  

Amsterdam to Dublin

159  

Mr. Cullen: I welcome the Minister's encouragement and the new air fares that will now operate. They have been warranted for some time. In the light of what happened on these air routes, will the Minister be prepared to examine, for instance, the Scandinavian, French and other continental air routes for the same reason? It is obvious that we will be able to increase air traffic, particularly into this country, if we reduce air fares to realistic levels, as has happened on all the other air routes? Will he consider those further developments?

Mr. Wilson: I will certainly study any proposals that are made. The people in this business are fully aware of the potential in the various areas. The only connection we have with Scandinavian Airways at present is that they run the restaurant or cafe facilities at Dublin Airport. Many of the airlines mentioned by the Deputy are open to make applications and they will be duly studied in my Department.

Mr. Cullen: Will the Minister try to encourage Aer Lingus, who operate on some of the Scandinavian and other routes, to take the necessary steps to operate these routes without having [2036] pressure brought on them by other airlines taking the lead in this matter?

Mr. Wilson: Since taking office a few weeks ago, I have found Aer Lingus to be more than helpful in relation to the initiatives I took with regard to tourism. I must continue to stress that, selfish as it may look, I am more interested in getting people into the country than in providing facilities for them going out.

Mr. Deasy: The question that arises in all our minds is why did it take so long for Aer Lingus to adopt this cheap air fare policy. Why did we have to wait for Ryanair to create a climate of lower air fares which made it imperative for Aer Lingus to follow suit? The air traveller to and from this country may feel with justification, that he has been unfairly mulcted over the years. Would the Minister care to comment on that?

Mr. Wilson: I would not.

Mr. Cullen: I agree with the Minister that in many ways the object is to get people into the country and this is the point I am making in regard to these routes. The percentage of tourists from these countries is negligible, around 1 per cent——

An Ceann Comhairle: A supplementary question, please.

Mr. Cullen: It is in this regard that I am asking the question. It should be encouraged for incoming traffic.

Mr. Wilson: I have stressed with all the agencies how important it is to emphasise travel into the country, in particular from Germany and France where our percentage has fallen. The German market is a very big market and the Germans are [2037] great travellers. They spend much money abroad and my objective is, as of now, to get as many of them as possible into the country and it is because of that I have concentrated on the access transport aspect.

Mr. Carey: The previous Minister considered these routes and there was a bilateral agreement with the British authorities. Are the new routes into Britain which the Minister has approved subject to a bilateral agreement and is the Dan-Air licence for transport between London and Shannon still in operation?

Mr. Wilson: Yes, we have contacted the UK authorities and we do not expect any difficulties there. The Dan-Air licence is still in operation. They have a very attractive advertisement in today's paper and I asked an official of my Department to write to them and to ask them to advertise to the east of us so that we can get the benefit of travel east-west just as much as west-east. They are offering inducements for travel west-east.