Threats by Ryanair bosses have sparked fears that Shannon Airport in Ireland’s west will become deserted.
If the airline goes forth with its threat to reduce its Shannon Airport base by 75 percent, it “would turn the airport into a ghost town,” according to the mayor of Clare, Tony Mulcahy.
Ryanair has presented an ultimatum to the Irish Government, stating that they will reduce the number of aircrafts at Shannon to one if the Government does not remove the €10 ($15) departure tax by next February.
“If Ryanair presses ahead with this, it will cause horrendous damage,” Mulcahy told the Irish Times, and called the departure tax “senseless.”
Shannon Airport has heavily relied on Ryanair for a large proportion of its traffic. The airline settled on its existing five-year deal in 2005, but it’s set to expire next April.
“It seemed a good deal at the time and everyone has benefited from lower fares,” Shannon-based councilor Patricia McCarthy told the Times, but warned that relying on one airline has been detrimental to the airport.
“Your choice is reduced and you are also leaving yourself open to pressure from the airline that if they pull out, what services are left,” she added.
Now that Shannon’s transatlantic services have been slashed, the airport has relied even more on its Ryanair flights.
In 2007, 46 percent of the 3.6 million Shannon Airport passengers flew Ryanair, and in 2008, the percentage rose to 59.6.
Last Wednesday, the airline issued its ultimatum, and declared that it will reduce its services by 75 percent, stating that in talks to extend its current deal with Shannon Airport Authority, the company is looking to reduce costs by 50 percent.
Ryanair has confirmed that it has lost money each year of its five-year Shannon deal.
TD (member of Irish parliament) Joe Carey said: “While there is inevitably a certain amount of gamesmanship and negotiating tactics from Ryanair, there can be no doubt that the travel tax has been a disaster for the Midwest region. It should be removed and removed immediately.”