Published on February 23rd, 2015 | by Jim Lee0
Stobart announced as PSO route winner
Following an EU public tendering process the Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe announced on 26th November that Stobart Air has been successful in securing the tender to provide scheduled air services on the Donegal-Dublin and the Kerry-Dublin routes, subject to a contract being put in place. Stobart Air will operate both the Kerry-Dublin and Donegal-Dublin services under the Aer Lingus Regional brand. Donegal and Kerry Airports are the most remote of the regional airport network from Dublin and continuation of the PSO air services promotes balanced regional development for those areas. The current PSO contracts on these two routes expire on 31st January 2015 and the new combined contract will operate from 1st February 2015 until 31st January 2017. This contract may be extended for a further period of a maximum of one year, following the initial two year period, subject to a satisfactory review undertaken after the initial period of 18 months of operation. Aer Lingus Regional already holds the PSO contract for Kerry-Dublin, while Loganair holds the Donegal-Dublin agreement, flying the route under the Flybe brand using a Saab 340. Loganair also serves Glasgow from Donegal.
Under EU Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1008/2008 of 24th September 2008, the Government established Public Service Obligation (PSO) air services schemes. Such schemes provide financial support to airlines, based on a competitive tender, to operate essential services serving peripheral or development regions which are considered vital for the economic development of those regions and which would not otherwise be provided on a commercial basis. A Government Decision to reduce to two the number of routes covered by PSO air services, namely the Donegal/Dublin and Kerry/Dublin routes, was taken in line with the Value for Money Review of Exchequer Expenditure on the Regional Airports Programme, published in 2011. This Review took account of a number of factors including the performance of the services, the requirement to make best use of scarce Exchequer resources, as well as improvements in alternative transport modes and changes in EU legislation covering PSO services.
Aer Arann Islands also hold a PSO contract for the provision of air services to the Aran Islands which was extended by a year to 30th September 2015. An airstrip management contract was also extended by a year. The extension will allow the Department “an opportunity to assess the report on the review of the air service” to the islands.