Tuesday, 29 June 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
In many ways I do not oppose the Minister’s ideas per se but I am concerned that the proposal before the House was not thought out fully. I am concerned from the point of view of the future of the airports, particularly Cork Airport, and about the situation generally. It makes no sense to proceed in this way. Surely we should have all the figures and the facts before us before we make such important decisions.
I did not like the way the Government announced a few weeks ago that it proposed to introduce legislation and that it would pass through the House before the summer recess on 8 July. This was before the Bill had been circulated. If ever there was an indication of an arrogant and autocratic Government, that was it. The notion that it would presume that a Bill that had not even been seen by Members would be rubber-stamped by the Oireachtas is the supreme example of arrogance.
The approach adopted is wrong from every point of view — the business and staff have no confidence in the Minister’s ideas because business plans have not been produced and they have no security as regards their situation in the absence of such plans. I am opposed to the process as much as the substance. There may be merit in the substance of the Bill but the onus is on the Government to prove that.
Mr. Deenihan: I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. Shannon Airport is critical to the western seaboard. A recent survey showed that over 50% of transatlantic passengers who disembark in Shannon Airport will wind up in Kerry, while only 21% of those who disembark in Dublin will go there. Shannon Airport is, therefore, vital for regional development.
Dublin Airport is much too dominant in the market. It accounts for 84% of European traffic, 81% of UK traffic and 80% of Aer Rianta traffic. In contrast, Shannon Airport accounts for just 7% of Aer Rianta’s UK and European traffic, according to the 2002 figures. Dublin Airport also has 56% of transatlantic traffic but this represents only 5% of its business mix because of its enormous dominance of European and UK services. Shannon Airport has 44% of transatlantic traffic, representing 32% of its traffic mix. Any change in the bilateral agreement that affects Shannon Airport will have major repercussions for the entire western seaboard.
None of the five reports that have been commissioned into airport services recommended the approach now being taken by the Government. The PricewaterhouseCoopers report has been quoted most often in the House. That report failed to show that Shannon and Cork Airports could survive as viable stand-alone entities. The report also acknowledged that additional capital expenditure would have to be met by increasing landing charges, which would reduce competitiveness. It stated there would have to be a major investment of €36 million in Shannon Airport in the years between 2005 and 2008. Will this happen if Aer Rianta is broken up and a company is established in Shannon with few resources?
Recently the Minister received a report, based on departmental figures, that estimated Shannon will need an annual subvention of €10 million to survive. The ending of the stop-over will form an integral part of any new arrangement so Shannon will not have the necessary numbers arriving from America. In Farranfore Airport, which is operated on a shoestring budget, things are tight, but I cannot see the same practices that have helped to make Farranfore Airport successful working in Shannon Airport. Comparisons have been made between the two airports but they are inaccurate.
I fear that Shannon Airport will be the loser if we go down this road. In the past, I supported an arrangement where there would be a separate entity to support Shannon Airport under the umbrella of Aer Rianta, with a subsidy from Dublin Airport, which is successful and profitable. That would ensure the cake was shared nationally — it was a vehicle for a regional strategy. This proposal, however, is doomed to failure.
The Minister wants to create change and I admire him for that but in this instance he is wrong. The business plans should have been prepared first with the legislation following if the plans were viable. If that was the case, Shannon Airport would still be part of Aer Rianta under the new name of Dublin Airport Authority, with Cork Airport standing alone. There is no way the figures will add up so Shannon can survive on its own.
Mr. Allen: This Bill is putting the cart before the horse. It is a case of Ministers passing the biscuit from one position at the Cabinet table to the other. I object to guillotining the Bill. I do not know why it was introduced in haste. It is being pushed through the House now and will be pushed through the Seanad next week and there will then be a hiatus until such time as financial reports are completed.
I am not here to whinge but to be factual. Cork has received a number of raw deals in the past. Promises were made about a blood transfusion service in Cork but there has been no sign of any developments. Delays in the construction of the Cork School of Music added to our woes. We have no option but to take the proposals in this Bill at face value.
If Cork Airport is to be viable and to develop to its full potential it needs a carriageway between the new terminal building and the old building. It requires a new fire station, ramp space, taxiways, a new cargo facility and apron stands. I do not see how all this can be achieved. Cork Airport has been promised €160 million free of charge and a new terminal free of charge. In the long term, it is like giving a hospital to a community without fitting it out. There will be a new terminal building but the airport will not have the capacity to expand because the site is very confined on 600 acres. It has only 13 apron stands and will require more if it is to develop its business. I do not see how that can be achieved by this Bill. I would have preferred to see the financial reports on each of the airports completed before this legislation was presented to the House.
If handled incorrectly, the break up will not only impact on Cork Airport, but will have a very negative effect on the Cork region as a whole, affecting sectors such as local and international business and the tourism sector stretching from Waterford to Kerry. How does it fit in with the spatial strategy published last year and about which very little has been done? How does it fit in with aviation policy, if such a policy exists?
Cork Airport has developed a holiday charter business in recent years but business travel has gone downhill. Aer Lingus last year discontinued its early morning flight from Cork. Aer Arann now provides that service. Baggage cannot be booked through from Cork to the final destination; passengers must disembark at Dublin, claim their baggage and check it in again, which is crazy. The flights from Cork do not connect with early morning flights to Europe. Aer Lingus’s policy has left Cork out on a limb.
The Minister’s ill-conceived proposals will cause Cork to suffer even further. It is an ill-thought out Bill being pushed through the House. It does not give the Opposition, which was presented with the Bill last week, the time and opportunity to consult the people who will be most affected, the business community in the region and those within the airport who have given sterling service to the airport since it was opened in the 1960s. It is a friendly and efficient airport but it has been strangled by the heavy hand of Dublin.
Mr. Neville: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I am extremely disappointed that the time is so short. The guillotine has ensured that those of us from the area who wish to make detailed contributions do not have the opportunity to do so. The Minister has decided that the House should not discuss this Bill. His own party, parliamentary party and transport policy group have requested him to allow further detailed discussion. Obviously the Minister is responsive neither to the Dáil nor to his own parliamentary party and transport policy group.
It is of vital importance to the mid-west region and to the west of Ireland that Shannon Airport remains viable. There are many question marks over the viability of Shannon Airport following a break-up. I do not understand why the Minister would break up something and then decide on a business plan to see if this is viable and to draw up a plan for the future with financial projections, passenger forecasts and everything that goes with an airport viability plan. It stands any business theory on its head to make a decision before a study of the viability of that decision is completed.
There are serious doubts about the viability of the airport following the break-up. Shannon Airport is vital for the development of both the west and mid-west of Ireland yet every time Shannon Airport is discussed here, Deputies from the mid-west and the west must defend the stopover and the viability of the airport. We are still doing it in 2004, trying to ensure the survival of Shannon Airport and expressing our doubts that the present approach and policy of the Government will ensure the viability and survival of Shannon as an important resource vital to the survival of the business and tourism development of the mid-west and the west region.
American business makes up 44% of Shannon’s traffic; 50% of business in the Shannon free zone is American, dependent on viable and immediate access to the American market. IBEC has repeatedly stressed the importance of Shannon Airport to the continuation of American business in the mid-west region. It contributes to the attractiveness of the mid-west region for business from the United States in particular. One of the attractions is a viable, efficient airport with immediate access. That is being put in question again.
I was a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport which examined the Shannon stopover. We learned that everyone in Dublin Airport has an agenda for Shannon Airport to become a junior regional airport to Dublin. The Minister proposes putting the airport under the authority of Dublin Airport for a period. Once Dublin takes over Shannon, that is the death-knell of Shannon.
I have listened over the years to many members of staff complaining that Dublin rules. Cork Airport is third in line when it comes to infrastructural development, when it comes to a marketing budget and capital projects. Everybody in this House will have witnessed how much we were forced out on a limb to ensure that the new terminal at Cork Airport was deemed essential, given that the throughput in the airport for which the present terminal was built, was in terms of 700,000 passengers and the airport now has 2.4 million passengers. The time has long come and gone since that terminal was needed for Cork Airport to provide facilities for passengers. How often have I stated Cork Airport had a marketing budget of €300,000 or €400,000 in comparison? In just a few years, however, annual passenger turnover has increased from 700,000 to the current figure of 2.4 million.
Mr. B. O’Keeffe: Rather than being the hind tit in terms of the three State airports, Cork Airport has shown, with meagre funding, that people want to use it. People on the Continent want to visit Cork and Kerry. People in the United States would also love an opportunity to use the airport. I am not afraid of an open skies policy.
Mr. B. O’Keeffe: I welcome it because it offers an opportunity to Cork and Kerry to benefit from visitors from the United States who will appreciate the south-west and develop the tourism package that is part and parcel of the region.
Mr. B. O’Keeffe: Well done to the marketing staff and management of Cork Airport. Although we were beaten on Sunday, we are proud to stand alone with confidence that we can deliver more and more passengers and create a self-sufficient airport.
I have heard mealy-mouthed expressions of confidence in the staff of Cork Airport and complaints of being restricted under the old regime, which nevertheless survived and grew. I am amazed at the growth the airport achieved, despite the inadequacy of its budget. I am also amazed at the confidence of its staff, the heavy-handed manner with which it has been dealt over the years by a Dublin bureaucracy which has restricted its development.
I have certain reservations and inform the Minister, without apology, that with regard to the €150 million cost for the new terminal, I want a level playing pitch once Cork Airport is operating on a stand-alone basis. I do not want it to——
Mr. B. O’Keeffe: Dublin is already paying the cost of the over-emphasis of Bord Fáilte and other agencies on developing Dublin. The cost is nothing new or exceptional and has been borne in Dublin already.
It is vital that a business plan for Cork Airport allows it, as a stand-alone airport, an opportunity to develop. The Minister must not impose conditions on the new terminal. We must be given an opportunity to build on the airport’s confidence and the progress already achieved. It must be allowed to flourish as a magnet for counties Cork and Kerry.
Ms Hoctor: Gabhaim buíochas as ucht na deise labhairt sa Teach anocht ar an mBille tábhachtach seo. I welcome the opportunity, however brief, to address the House. I have been astonished by speakers from the Opposition benches. I have a good memory and remind my colleagues that when a very important decision about Shannon Airport was made in April last year on the question of continuing to service troops passing through the airport, not one Deputy from the mid-west region supported the motion before the House.
Ms Hoctor: At least, the Opposition took a stand and voted against the motion but not one Deputy from the mid-west region voted to support Shannon Airport. Deputy Breen is aware of this and should not try to convince me that he is concerned about the airport’s future.
Given that the programme for Government provides for legislation on State airports, it should come as no surprise that the legislation is before the House one year after the Minister announced the break-up of Aer Rianta. I welcome the legislation and was one of the first members of the mid-west regional authority to do so.
Ms Hoctor: Dublin Airport has an average of 45,000 passengers per day and up to 80,000 per day during the busy summer period. While that is fine, I would not be pleased if I was living on the north side of Dublin where congestion is appalling. Why should we in the mid-west contribute to this congestion when we have a state-of-the-art, under-utilised and under-capacity facility at Shannon Airport? I will not take lectures on how it should be run from people in Dublin because decisions on the airport have for too long been largely made in Dublin.
Ms Hoctor: The legislation offers a great opportunity to develop Shannon Airport. US Airways services from Philadelphia and Continental flights from Newark are excellent examples of what can happen when innovative opportunities are afforded to the airport. One has only to visit it to get easy parking and realise that it is under-utilised. The deficiencies in the running of the airport are largely evident in the lack of short haul flights to the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe. Most of us must still travel to Dublin to fly to the Continent. It does not make sense that 80% of continental flights take off from Dublin when we have a large rural community in the mid-west and on the west coast who wish to travel but must travel to Dublin and add to its congestion when they want to leave the country.
Priority must be given to attracting more low cost carriers to Shannon Airport to develop a series of new routes, largely to the United Kingdom and the Continent. The airport has a serious deficiency on such routes.
I compliment the Minister on moving forward on this matter. The 2 million passengers currently using Shannon Airport will not increase to 4 million without additional structures being put in place, specifically as regards the road network which falls within the Minister’s remit. The new bypass recently opened on the N7 is excellent but development on the route must continue. We know the development of the western corridor is planned and urge the Minister to move ahead with it with the National Roads Authority.
The rail network must also expand. Developing the Shannon to Ennis and Ennis to Limerick rail links and the Nenagh-Roscrea-Ballybrophy rail line is necessary. If these areas of the mid-west were served, Shannon Airport would be better served.
Ms Hoctor: We are not interested in going to Dublin. If Shannon Airport is left as it is, it will not grow. We must also consider the dispersed population it serves. When one adds counties Galway, Clare, Limerick and Kerry, however, there is no doubt that it can meet its capacity. I compliment the Minister on his courage in introducing the legislation and fully support him.
Mr. Haughey: I am not happy that Second Stage is being rushed through the House. Dáil business was changed unexpectedly last week to accommodate this legislation. Less than five hours was devoted to Second Stage and only one hour has been provided this evening. That is not enough.
Mr. Haughey: I accept the decision was taken by the Government to break up Aer Rianta but both Houses need more time to debate these issues. The case for the break-up of this State company has not been made to date. Many questions regarding this matter remain unanswered and, unfortunately, we cannot obtain the answers, given the limited time available on Second Stage.
Mr. Haughey: Will the legislation be needed? The Ministers for Finance and Transport may veto these plans next year if they are not satisfied with the business plans presented. In addition, the agreement of the House will also be needed. Would it be more sensible, as previous speakers have said, if the business plans were presented first?
Mr. Haughey: I refer to the ten-year business plan submitted by the chairman of Aer Rianta. This plan is acceptable to the unions. Under the plan, Aer Rianta highlights the difficulties that will be faced by Cork and Shannon Airports in the years ahead.
On Friday, 13 June 2003 I met representatives of SIPTU at their request in Leinster House together with a number of Members to discuss the union’s concerns about the break-up of Aer Rianta and other matters. I wrote to SIPTU on 3 July 2003 and informed the union of my opposition to these proposals. I stated I would highlight their concerns to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Transport, which I duly did. The Government decided later in July to proceed with these plans and, even though I have concerns about the legislation, as a Government Deputy I am obliged to support it.
Under the legislation, the Minister is essentially introducing competition between Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. He wishes to ensure the three new boards are commercially focused. In addition, he also proposes to introduce competition within Dublin Airport by providing for the construction of a second terminal run by private interests. I hope the Minister’s plans work for everyone’s sake and that conditions will improve. The fear, however, is that an ideology is being pursued for the sake of it when a more pragmatic approach might be preferable.
Mr. Haughey: SIPTU produced a document last year entitled A Ruthless Act of Institutionalised Vandalism. While as legislators, we are obliged to listen to all concerns and not only those of trade unions, SIPTU highlights nine different myths surrounding Aer Rianta. They are as follows: Aer Rianta’s airport charges are excessive; Aer Rianta is another State-owned white elephant; congestion at Dublin Airport shows that Aer Rianta is basically incompetent; competition between the three Aer Rianta airports would make them more efficient; competition between the airports would reduce running costs; competition between them will drive down air fares for passengers and boost tourism; the Minister has a mandate to break up Aer Rianta; Shannon Airport will thrive as an independent company; and the unions in Aer Rianta are opposed to change.
Mr. Haughey: There is chaos in Dublin Airport and the travelling public fully realise this. Severe congestion is being experienced and, therefore, new airline business cannot be attracted. A total of 15 million passengers use the airport currently and that could increase to 30 million in the next ten to 15 years. A new terminal is needed to provide for new routes, increase employment and generate more tourism. The debate centres on whether this should be the proposed pier D or an independent terminal. Thirteen expressions of interest were submitted for the new independent terminal. The procedure for selecting the winning entry, if that route is pursued, must be transparent, accountable and open. I said this to the Minister earlier and he agreed.
Mr. Dennehy: Members representing the different areas surrounding the three airports are giving the legislation a different welcome and they are placing a different emphasis on its contents. We, in Cork, have felt for a long time that we have been deprived of certain benefits that accrued in other areas, particularly Shannon and Dublin. Dublin ruled the roost. Cork is an efficient, capable airport which has been selected as the best national airport three years running by consumers.
Deputy Batt O’Keeffe mentioned the competition faced by Cork Airport while Deputy Allen and others are also aware of it because we all challenged the unfair marketing budget available to one airport compared with others. We believed it was wrong.
Cork Airport has never had an artificial prop. Airlines have never been forced to land there to use the airport and that is the key to its success. The airport was losing up to £800,000 per year in the mid-1980s, but through staff changes, cutbacks and the hard work of staff, those losses were turned around quickly. Four major improvements were made at the airport, all of them funded through the budget of the Cork business unit. Only one proposal was refused. Funding of £250,000 was sought in the mid-1980s to extend the runway and it was refused by the Minister of the day.
I congratulate Deputy Haughey on his fine contribution. I welcome the true spirit of Fianna Fáil in his contribution, which has been so cowed by the Progressive Democrats over recent years that few of its members are willing to stand up and speak. It is time they did. It is also time the rushed passage of the legislation was stopped. According to this evening’s news reports, the Minister is being asked by members of his own party to slow the passage of the legislation and to wait until the autumn. I ask the Minister to do so in the interest of sanity because, aside from everything else, he is throwing away 45 years of progress at Shannon Airport, including Shannon Development Limited which was founded by the Lemass Government in 1958. Maybe that is why Deputy Haughey is conscious of history.
The Shannon Development Company has been thrown into the mix because the Shannon Free Zone’s assets are to be transferred in order to hold up the new airport company, which will appear to be non-viable unless it has that funding. That will put Shannon Development into an impossible situation. This is not just a threat to the future of Shannon Airport but to the future of Shannon Development and the entire region, where over 40,000 jobs are directly dependent on the airport.
It is absolute madness to do this without a proper business plan. The Minister should not go ahead and split the airports into three different companies before receiving business plans for them. That is absolute madness.
I do not know how Humpty Dumpty can be put back together once he has been broken up, and that is what seems to be happening with this legislation. Aer Rianta is to be broken up, then the individual boards draw up business plans, but if the Minster for Finance, whether it be Deputy McCreevy or not, does not approve the process it has to be undone. How can the process be undone if it is legislated for in this rushed fashion? None of us has the time to make a proper point because of the tiny amount of time allocated to us, though I would love to be able
to develop the issues involving Shannon
The Tánaiste said recently that there was support for this move in Shannon, and there is, but it is in Progressive Democrats-controlled organisations in Shannon such as the board of Shannon Development.
Ms O’Sullivan: In addition to splitting up Aer Rianta the Government is also getting rid of the 50-50 gateway status. Deputy Dennehy should not say that is propping up anything in Shannon — it gives equality to Shannon and Dublin. There are as many people who want to fly into Shannon as into Dublin.
Ms O’Sullivan: These three major changes in Shannon — to Shannon Development, to Aer Rianta and to the transatlantic corridor, are being made in the interest of the Progressive Democrats philosophy. Fianna Fáil should be ashamed to sign up to this Progressive Democrats agenda and the Minister should listen to his own party members rather than to the 3% or 4% of the electorate which votes for the Progressive Democrats.
Mr. Stanton: I am pleased to have the chance to voice my concerns. I agree with what speakers have said about the importance of Cork Airport to the economic and industrial growth of the area. It is absolutely vital. The airport has not received much support in the last 20 years and massive investment is needed, though I welcome the extension of the terminal. I also agree with previous speakers’ comments about marketing problems with the airport.
I am very concerned about the future of the airport and we must ensure that funding is available to expand it. Runways need to be lengthened, the terminal building must be refurbished, new ramp areas and cargo buildings are needed, the apron must be extended and more land must be bought also. That is crucial for the economic survival of the entire region.
If the funding is not there to do that, how does the Minister see this essential expansion of the airport occurring? We are told that approximately €160 million is being made available and there is some talk of a lease-back also — the Minister should explain that. We know what is needed and that €160 million is available, but I am told by some people that up to €250 million may be needed for the airport to expand and be viable.
Does the Minister have figures to show that Cork and Shannon will be stand-alone, independent entities and will not be dependent on low-cost carriers for survival? Since the Cork tunnel came into operation the airport has become more important, and people from all over the southern part of the country use it. There may also be a need for a light rail link from the airport to the city.
All of this must be funded, and my information is that the profits the airport will generate are relatively small and will not be enough to fund the essential infrastructural work which will be required. If that expansion cannot be funded then the airport will stagnate and may begin to die. That cannot be allowed to happen.
I have seen massive queues in the airport, leading out of the old terminal, and we must ensure the airport is comfortable. I am told that cutbacks are already being made in the new terminal, with walkways not being covered, for example. That cannot continue.
Minister for Transport (Mr. Brennan): I thank Deputies for their contributions. I have taken careful note of what they have been saying and I look forward to fleshing out many of these details on Committee Stage on Thursday.
Mr. Brennan: The reforms provided for in the Bill are focused on developing Dublin Airport, Cork Airport and Shannon Airport going forward and to increase traffic, to bring in more airlines and to increase significantly the number of passengers and jobs at the airports. The only sensible way to grow those jobs is to grow the business at the three State airports and it is important to emphasise that they will remain State-owned airports. Growing business and bringing in airlines are the challenges I am trying to focus on.
Under strong and focused leadership Shannon and Cork airports can have a fresh start and they will be able to develop separate business strategies and concentrate on marketing initiatives. Cork and Shannon airports will no longer have to play second fiddle to Dublin Airport, settle for the crumbs from the table or settle for a Dublin attitude which is “Let’s just keep shovelling subsidies down to Cork and Shannon as long as they are quiet within the monopoly and do not give us too much trouble.”
I have more confidence in Shannon Airport and Cork Airport than that. Shannon can double the number of passengers from 2 million at present to 4 million, which is the estimate of its incoming chairman, Pat Shanahan. It has been suggested that Cork Airport can also grow from 2.3 million passengers to over 3 million in a short period.
One sees a good example of why this is necessary in flight patterns, as 90% of people who fly to the UK from Ireland go from Dublin and 93% or 94% of those travelling to the Continent travel through Dublin. I know of no reason why many of those people——
Dublin Airport passenger numbers are set to grow from the present level of 15 million per year to 30 million over the next 15 years. That is phenomenal growth. The new Dublin Airport Authority has national and international aviation experience and will be able to focus on meeting the urgent needs of Dublin Airport, which is growing rapidly and needs constant attention.
The Bill provides the necessary legislative framework for the restructuring and the establishment of the airports on a separate basis eventually. It provides for Aer Rianta’s mandate to be changed by ministerial order so that it includes a responsibility to restructure the company on an orderly basis. On the day the order is made a new board will be appointed and Aer Rianta will become the Dublin Airport Authority.
The Bill was carefully put together after substantial discussions which went on for over 12 months. It is enabling legislation and allows implementation in a two-stage process. First, the airport authority takes office in Dublin, Shannon and Cork and it immediately gets down to pressing on with statutory business plans and agreeing on a delegated basis what functions each of the three authorities can carry out in the interim period.
During that period the assets will remain with the Dublin authority, as I explained. Assuming the shareholders, that is, the Ministers for Finance and Transport, are satisfied with the viability of the business plans, the assets will then transfer and Shannon and Cork will become fully independent and autonomous——
Over the past 12 months as I have visited Shannon and Cork and talked to interests, trade unions and workers in Dublin, there has been considerable support in many quarters for the concept of what we are trying to do. Most criticisms are about the mechanics and the timing. Most pleas, which have been made to me in the past couple of weeks centre around the way we are doing this. Almost everybody prefixes their comments by saying they understand that monopoly is not the way forward and that the way forward is to give Shannon and Cork their own wings, if Members will pardon the pun, and imbue and establish them with strong regional leadership. Most criticisms made to me are about the pace, mechanism and timing.
Mr. Brennan: We can tease that out as we go through the Bill. Shannon and Cork Airports can survive. The alternative vision being painted for Shannon and Cork is that they will be nice and quiet, stay inside the monopoly, take the huge subsidies coming——
Mr. Brennan: The alternative vision seems to be to relegate Shannon and Cork to continual subsidisation as long as they stay quiet and do not rock the boat. I have a bolder vision for the future of Shannon and Cork with strong regional leadership improving those airports, doubling the number of passengers, doubling the employment in due course and putting those two airports on the map.
The Department of Transport produced figures for six airports in the UK and Europe with similar passenger traffic. It produced figures for six airports with approximately 2 million passengers per year, which is approximately the size of Shannon and Cork. All six are substantially profitable. What they have are strong boards, strong chief executives, strong chairpersons and strong regional support, and they are growing.
Under the terms of the restructuring, both airports will begin debt free. That means a debt of €70 million will come off Shannon and approximately €120 million off Cork. At present those debts are being serviced by a rapidly growing Dublin Airport. Given the contribution of Shannon and Cork to Aer Rianta over the years, it is entirely appropriate that, as they go their way, they are given a clean balance sheet and a good start and that the €70 million and €120 million are lifted off those airports.
Mr. Brennan: It is also necessary to invest in the infrastructure in the region and I have asked the National Roads Authority to bring forward the development of the Galway-Shannon motorway. I have provided funds for the consultancy study for the rail link into Shannon and to press on with the extension of the Shannon relief road. It is critical to continue to make the investments in the Shannon region, which I am doing as part of that.
Mr. Brennan: The Government has, however, after lengthy discussions with the trade unions, taken on board a large number of the concerns, and it will continue to do so as the legislation progresses. To assist in addressing these concerns, we reached agreement in a number of important areas. A section of the Bill specifically states that there will be no diminution in the terms and conditions of employment of workers in the companies as they transfer to new authorities in time.
Mr. Brennan: The second area we negotiated with the trade unions was to the effect that no assets would transfer to Shannon or Cork until at least 30 April 2005, which would give us an opportunity to work out much of the detail of the financial aspects. We also agreed with the trade unions that the drawing up of detailed business plans would commence with the new authorities which would get down to fleshing out the existing business. Aer Rianta is a public limited company and it has business plans.
Mr. Brennan: I wish to make it clear that we have agreed with the trade unions that there will be a process of engagement during the transition period and that we will discuss with them in great detail the finalisation of the business plans.
Mr. Brennan: I reiterate that the findings of the PricewaterhouseCoopers study, which my Department has, makes it clear that the establishment of three independent entities will allow these issues to be addressed in a focused way with fresh ideas, a clearly defined capital pool allocated to each airport and an autonomous approach pertinent to the business priorities of each airport.
Mr. Brennan: I wish to mention the issue of airport charges because they have been talked about quite a bit. Many of the financial challenges facing the airports have been incorrectly attributed to the restructuring process. The reality is — this has been written in all the studies — that irrespective of the restructuring, that is, if there was no restructuring, charges may have to increase at Dublin Airport.
Mr. Brennan: The increases indicated by PricewaterhouseCoopers arise from pre-existing capital investment and from existing expenditure at the airports, and have nothing whatsoever to do with the restructuring proposals for the airport.
The intention in progressing with this legislation and project is to ensure continued growth, in particular of Shannon and Cork, to ensure that they are able to grow and develop as strong international airports into the future rather than consign them to possible continual subsidisation inside a group structure.
|Ahern, Michael.||Ahern, Noel.|
|Andrews, Barry.||Ardagh, Seán.|
|Brady, Johnny.||Brady, Martin.|
|Brennan, Seamus.||Browne, John.|
|Callanan, Joe.||Callely, Ivor.|
|Carty, John.||Cassidy, Donie.|
|Coughlan, Mary.||Cregan, John.|
|Cullen, Martin.||Curran, John.|
|Davern, Noel.||de Valera, Síle.|
|Dempsey, Tony.||Dennehy, John.|
|Devins, Jimmy.||Ellis, John.|
|Finneran, Michael.||Fitzpatrick, Dermot.|
|Fleming, Seán.||Glennon, Jim.|
|Grealish, Noel.||Hanafin, Mary.|
|Haughey, Seán.||Hoctor, Máire.|
|Jacob, Joe.||Keaveney, Cecilia.|
|Kelleher, Billy.||Kelly, Peter.|
|Killeen, Tony.||McDowell, Michael.|
|McGuinness, John.||Martin, Micheál.|
|Moynihan, Michael.||Mulcahy, Michael.|
|Nolan, M.J.||Ó Cuív, Éamon.|
|Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.||O’Connor, Charlie.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||O’Donovan, Denis.|
|O’Keeffe, Batt.||O’Malley, Fiona.|
|Parlon, Tom.||Power, Peter.|
|Power, Seán.||Sexton, Mae.|
|Smith, Michael.||Treacy, Noel.|
|Wallace, Dan.||Walsh, Joe.|
|Wilkinson, Ollie.||Wright, G.V.|
|Allen, Bernard.||Boyle, Dan.|
|Breen, Pat.||Broughan, Thomas P.|
|Bruton, Richard.||Burton, Joan.|
|Connaughton, Paul.||Costello, Joe.|
|Crawford, Seymour.||Crowe, Seán.|
|Deenihan, Jimmy.||Durkan, Bernard J.|
|Ferris, Martin.||Gilmore, Eamon.|
|Gormley, John.||Hayes, Tom.|
|Healy, Seamus.||Higgins, Joe.|
|Howlin, Brendan.||Lynch, Kathleen.|
|McGinley, Dinny.||McGrath, Finian.|
|McGrath, Paul.||Mitchell, Olivia.|
|Morgan, Arthur.||Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.|
|Murphy, Gerard.||Naughten, Denis.|
|Neville, Dan.||Noonan, Michael.|
|Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.||O’Dowd, Fergus.|
|O’Shea, Brian.||O’Sullivan, Jan.|
|Penrose, Willie.||Rabbitte, Pat.|
|Ring, Michael.||Ryan, Eamon.|
|Ryan, Seán.||Sargent, Trevor.|
|Sherlock, Joe.||Shortall, Róisín.|
|Stanton, David.||Upton, Mary.|
|Last Updated: 04/11/2010 12:53:49||Page of 332|