Dáil Éireann - Volume 581 - 02 March, 2004

Written Answers. - State Airports.

  181. Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport his position on the status of the Shannon stopover; if he intends entering into negotiations with Aer Lingus and US authorities to alter the US-Ireland bilateral trade pact on the Shannon stopover to halve the number of US flights into Shannon Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6776/04]

  Mr. Brennan: I refer the Deputy to my reply to a Priority Question on this subject.

As I previously indicated to the House on a number of occasions, I have authorised my officials to seek negotiations with the US on possible phased amendments to the Ireland-US bilateral agreement. No dates have yet been finalised for such negotiations.

My Department has also been in contact with the European Commission to inform it of the intended negotiations with the US. While I have on several occasions stressed to the Commission [392] the importance of the Shannon issue for the Irish authorities, I believe that the best prospects for achieving the most advantageous outcome for Irish aviation and tourism, including Shannon airport, lie in direct Ireland-US talks.

On 5 February I met with the Aer Rianta unions for further discussions on the dual gateway status of Shannon. There will be further discussions with the unions and the Shannon board designate before my negotiating position is finalised. I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate to publicise my negotiating position in advance.

Question No. 182 answered with Question No. 134.