Those of you who are familiar with the Dublin Airport Forum may have noticed a thread running recently about a new lobby group, which is currently in the planning stages. What this lobby group seeks to do is to focus attention on Irish aviation policy - where it fails, what it misses and where it should be going.
Although those involved - currently a small group - are angry and frustrated at the lack of action or apparent interest, we want to do this as positively as possible. It would be very easy to get very bitter and hostile, but clearly, this would do no good. The psychology will be just as important as the issues themselves.
Among the issues we hope to discuss are:
- Bilateral issues (particularly the US and Canada)
- The runway situation at DUB (incl. the need to lengthen 10/28)
- General issues relating to aviation policy, for example the need to recognise its value as a contributor to economic growth and to make sure it achieves this goal.
There may well be other issues (including regional issues) which need to be added and we'll be happy to add issues.
We hope that by putting these issues on the table, presenting them in a clear and logical manner, we can generate discussion and pressure to develop clear statements of policy.
We would welcome support - particularly moral support - in trying to achieve this. It's quite easy, in the comfortable confines of this and other forums, to rant and criticise, but ultimately, it doesn't achieve much. We need to focus attention on the key issues. For example, in relation to the stopover, we're coming very close to the stage where the addition of new routes for next Summer may not be possible; do we risk writing off another year, or do we focus attention.
We don't want to engage in an angry debate; that only diverts attention away from these issues; we want to engage and discuss the potential of aviation in Ireland - which we believe is immense - and we want to be satisfied that the government is interested and committed. It is a learning curve for us, because although I've been in touch with several successive ministers, we haven't gone down this path before and we'd be delighted for support and advice (particularly on technical issues).
That's the intention, up to a point. I can't say I'm very familiar with what Platform 11 does, but our intention would be that this group would focus on issues of aviation policy; I wouldn't see it as a depository for gripes about particular airlines' service.
There may well be a need for that kind of thing, but right now, I think the main focus needs to be on a sensible, responsible and growth driven aviation policy. We are a pretty small group, so it doesn't make sense to spread ourselves too wide.
I think this is a great idea and would like to say...go for it! Being all the way over in Aussie Land I canít do much, but it annoys me how much my home country restricts itself with such rules and regulations regarding airline travel!
Good luck to all involved and may you be successful!
The lack of strategic vision at government level with regard to aviation in Ireland really is appalling. Unfortunately, the only politician who showed any inclination to tackle the issues and address some of the problems has now been dumped into the dept. of social welfare!!!
The first major repercussion of this "don't rock the boat" attitude is the loss of the three senior Aer Lingus executives. In time, I'm sure that unless the government start to make some bold decisions about DUB and Aer Lingus (or any type of decision for that matter!!!), the attitude of maintaining the status quo at all costs will see the country miss out on some enormous potential, not only with regard to tourism, but also, imho, the potential to become a major european transit hub to rival Amsterdam Schiphol, for example. It's clear that there is a viable business case for expanding the airport, judging by the submissions from Ryanair, DAT2, etc, to build a second terminal.
Whatever about new services across the North Atlantic to the USA and Canada and the many complications of the now perverted Shannon stopover policy there is nothing stopping any interested party including Aer Lingus from starting direct flights to points in the South Afrian, Asian and Australasian markets. There has been such a stop/go on the likelihood of an Emirates flight from Dubai it is now gone beyond a joke. Emirates lack credibility on this matter of a Dublin route? However, with the arrival of the Boeing 787 and the probable A350 later in the decade such long thin routes from Ireland may become more viable. What's another few years of waiting? You Dubs should study the psyche we have had to live with here in Cork for so long another few years of waiting is nothing!
It is now about 2 years to the next general election and there is still no movement on the Shannon stopover. The days are counting and I wonder if we will be having a similar Shannon stopover discussion in another two years or so?
How would people feel lobbying a transport minister from the Sinners about the stopover?
Firstly, Tom, can I reassure you that this is not a Dublin only group. It just happens that as a Dub myself (albeit one living in Jersey), I have focused on these areas. I'm delighted to see ORK developing as well as it has and would certainly hope that any new bilateral agreement will provide for t/a flights from there; delighted also to hear that Malev and one of two other European flag carriers are tipped to fly to ORK.
With regard to EK, there's been a lot of talk about this on various sites, such as the DUB Airport forum and Airliners.net. Clearly, getting EK in would be a huge boost. I've been on to them several types (and have recently been in contact again), but it needs to come from a higher level. The thing that annoys me is that the govt is perfectly happy to spend a large amount sending delegations to China, Japan, ASEAN etc. (all of which I encourage strongly), but it doesn't make the link between developing trade links and transport. If we're to achieve our goals in these regions, we can't be dependant on LHR, AMS, FRA etc. We need direct access; some have challenged my view on this, saying that this isn't the govt's job, BUT I would argue that the govt's role is to co-ordinate the efforts of state and private industry groups and (as it did with SQ) approach airlines, using all necessary means to reel one of them in. It's not just me saying this, incidentally; only today, PWC (that's PriceWaterhouseCoopers, not Pratt & Whitney Canada!) said that economic growth could fall next year, because of the competitiveness of our exports; we can do something about this - aviation can be the answer, IF IT'S ALLOWED TO BE.
Of course, we don't do ourselves any favours on the infrastructure side and this is a key reason why we're pushing hard to get the current DUB runway extended. It's now (as you know!) 8,650'. The new runway won't be open until at least 2011, possibly 2012. That's seven years that we're stuck with a runway which WILL NOT ALLOW large freighters with full loads, which severely restricts existing twins and which will also prevent the effect we should be getting from having two competing terminal operators.
This is why we need focus and action. Think of how effective Irish aviation policy could be if the govt had the same attitude as it has towards the Northern Ireland issue; it's focused on a goal, it understands the importance and despite the current problems, it is disciplined, focused and committed to that goal, as are all civil servants involved. I mention this because it's often easy to kick the civil servants, but the real reason for their lethargy is the lack of direction from above; this needs to be a politically driven issue and we need to get this.
If nothing else (and I'm hoping for a lot more!), we should get a firm statement of the govt's understanding of the importance of aviation, plus a commitment to doing what needs to be done to achieve this. However, such is the lack of confidence that a lot more than words is necessary.
We need direct access; some have challenged my view on this, saying that this isn't the govt's job, BUT I would argue that the govt's role is to co-ordinate the efforts of state and private industry groups and (as it did with SQ) approach airlines, using all necessary means to reel one of them in.
I'm with you on this one. The Scottish Executive and the NI authorities are already being far more "activist" and have set up Route Development Funds (and in some cases engaged in their own marketing to airlines, in parallel with the airports' marketing endeavours) to win key direct routes (e.g. Emirates GLA-DXB, Continental BFS-EWR).
The concept is excellent. However, in order to establish a long term aviation strategy the government will need to park their political agendas. Government policy is currently focused on voters in North County Dublin most of whom are directly or indirectly linked to Dublin Airport. To date the government have failed to engage successfully with the former Aer Rianta or Aer Lingus without major fallout. There is no doubt that airport infrastrure in Ireland is below international standards and this is because forward planning means 5 - 10 years. This also applies to surface transport. So, by the time any given project is completed it is inadequate. This forum needs to carry weight, it needs to have two wings (sic) one group initially heading up the economic requirements versus the capital and also the regions, tying into surface transport and the other focusing on capital development all looking 50 - 100 years forward. The longer it goes on the harder it will be to bring major infrastructural projects to completion. Knowing the country's track record I can't see it happening. Would be great to be proved wrong! Finally, in agreement with previous postings, strategic international new route development needs to be supported at govt level, not by DAT management, who still carry Aer Rianta baggage and in my view are inhibiting proper growth. It is so easy to sell Ireland, but they have failed to sell it strategically>
Thanks very much for all the responses (and do, please, keep them coming); it's very pleasing to know that there's such a depth of feeling on this issue.
We'll push as hard as we can; this is something we can't afford to let slip by. The potential for Ireland to gain from aviation is immense; what really saddens me is that we should be having to say this in 2005; you would think that a modern, developed economy like ours would have recognised this by now; why does it have to be like extracting teeth, to get things moving.
Please note that I'll be away from this pm to the 21st, but I hope to have access to Internet while I'm away.
We're always glad to have positive contributions and thanks once again to all who have responded.