Aer Arann Islands threatens to halt Aran Islands air services for winter

  • Payment differences over non PSO routes
  • Threat revisits 2016 dispute

Padraig O Ceidigh’s Aer Arann Islands has threatened to withdraw winter services from Indreabhan to the Aran Islands and have launched an action against Gaeltacht minister Joe McHugh.
The company has served six months notice of its intention to end services in a dispute over the way in which the PSO contract is being interpreted.The agreement covers around 3,500 flights to and from the three Aran Islands each year.
Disagreements have emerged between Aer Árann and the department about a charge to the company of €500 for each non-PSO service it operates.
It is understood the problem arose soon after the current four year contract began in January 2017. The company said it sought mediation to resolve the issue but this has not happened.
In December 2016, Aer Árann was selected as the preferred tender to operate Public Service Obligation flights. That decision came after the Government abandoned the initial tender for the four-year contract in 2015, weeks after it had named Executive Helicopters as the preferred provider.
The move resulted in protests by island residents about the nature of the service and the proposal to use Galway Airport as the mainland arrival and departure point. When the tender was re-advertised in April 2016, it was stipulated that the service would have to operate from Aer Árann-owned Na Mine airport, near Indreabhan.
The department pays the company a subsidy for the use of this facility. The contract is scheduled to until the end of 2020, but it will now cease at the beginning of December.

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