Wednesday, 1 November 1978
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Bruton: asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will favourably consider applications from airlines outside IATA to operate services out of this country in order to generate more competition and thereby reduce fares.
Mr. Faulkner: Membership of IATA is not a prior condition for the grant of an authorisation for the operation of scheduled air services to and from this country. A number of non-IATA carriers already operate such services on a number of routes.
In considering applications for authorisations I must have regard to the need of the travelling public, the viability of the services provided and the welfare of the national airline. I am satisfied that existing arrangements maintain a fair balance between these interests and that the wide range of fares available reasonably meets the needs of the public.
Mr. Belton: Is the Minister aware of a recent press statement by a specialist in transport economics to the effect that if airlines outside IATA were allowed to operate between Dublin and London this could have the effect of reducing the fare to London from £68 to £25? Is this not worthy of consideration?
Mr. Faulkner: I have to concern myself about a number of aspects. Aer Lingus want to keep their fares as low as possible. That is accepted. Equally they have to make some profit. Therefore we must try to maintain a balance. There are airlines operating out of Dublin who are not members of IATA. I am informed that even the increase in fares will not quite meet the extra costs.
Mr. M. O'Leary: Is the Minister aware that probably the most expensive air crossing in the world is that between Dublin and London? If it is among the most expensive crossings in the world the case can be argued that a reduction  in the price of that air crossing would lead to higher passenger use and in that way improve the economic operation of Aer Lingus considerably. In view of the very high price of this crossing would the Minister agree that the price structure should be reviewed?
Mr. M. O'Leary: Independent research has shown that this is one of the most expensive air crossing in the world. It is also clearly established that cheaper fares could be arranged for this route, and it would seem that the Minister should take up with Aer Lingus the possibility of a reduction here.
Mr. Faulkner: Let me give him some figures. Taking normal fares only, the Dublin-London route the fare per mile is 12.41p; the Cork-London route, 11.75p; the Dublin-Amsterdam route, 14.03p; the Dublin-Brussels route, 13.45p; London-Brussels, 19.67p; London-Paris, 18.66p. I do not know how the Deputy finds that this is the most expensive route.
Mr. M. O'Leary: ——but I am surprised at the Minister's ignorance on this subject. He is the Minister in charge of this Department. I ask him to do a bit of homework on this subject and to go back and look at relevant papers which have been produced which suggest that  that is the most expensive route and that it should be reviewed. I suggest that the Minister take that up.
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