The Shannon stop in Dublin: Air Transport Research Group Meeting


By: Hans Adriaanse

Although it was the second time only, that the ATRG-Meeting was organized, already it attracted 106 participants from 17 countries.

The membership of the group, founded by Professor Tae Oum from University of British Columbia, now consists of 350 aviation researchers, policy-makers and executives from 28 countries.

The theme was AIR TRANSPORT IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM : OPPORTUNITIES IN COMPETITIVE MARKETS. A coherent, high quality series of interesting papers focussing on highly relevant issues such as European air transport policy,Networks and Al-liances, Economics and Pricing, Airline financing and performance, Airport management, Airline competitiveness, Deregulation, Air freight and Logistics, etc. There was remarkably little attention for the environmental aspects of aviation, exception made for the one paper on the the TGV-effect by Judith Patterson.

I want to highlight the one discussion session on Tuesday morning about Irish air transport policy. First of all, the topic of Irish air transport policy proved to be a very interesting one, as the speakers, all key players in this area, managed to put the problems in a historical perspective.

Participants in the discussion Mr. John Lumsden, Head of Air Transport in the Irish Dept of Public Enterprise, Mr John Burke, CEO of Air Rianta, managing body of the Irish Airports, Mr Gary Cullen, chief operating officer at Aer Lingus and Mr. Colm McCarthy, independent consultant. Under the witty guidance of Dr. Garret Fitzgerald, former Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, the debate took off in various directions, only to reveal the cornerstone of Irish aviation policy: the SHANNON stop!

As mr Lumsden had to explain repeatedly, to his own dismay your observer had to assume, the even distribution of welfare and wealth in the Republic required that, as in the early days of transatlantic crossing, airlines coming to Dublin, had to make a stop at Shannon airport.

This requirement must have helped to turn away a number of companies from Dublin air-port, to the advantage of Aer Lingus network operation. Nevertheless, Continental now, as a first interna-tional airline was announced to have complied with the Shannon stop requirement. Dr Fitz-gerald asked himself, what London Airports would have been like, if all airlines would have been required to come to Liverpool simultaneously. This Irish anti-hubbing verdict did not amuse Mr. McCarthy at all: nonetheless he predicted that airport access would be the bottleneck of Dublin Airport development.

On the dreary Sunday morning that I tried to leave Dublin through its airport, he only proved to be deadly right. I waited for the first bus to come at 6.30 in fresh showers right behind the Busaras Central Station, that has no busser-vice to the airport at that time of the day. So I took the city double decker for 90 pence. It came, though 15 minutes late; I was soaked. Coming closer to the airport, I saw what Mr McCar-thy must have meant: a firm traf-fic jam blocked the road to the terminal on a Sunday morning! No train, no Air-portbus, so everybody was on its own!

On my late arrival in the terminal, I found out that I had still 20 minutes to check in, that there were 3 counters available for “Europe”. The hall was filled with desperate travellers. I still do not know how I managed to get into the plane in time. It must have been a fortunately late departure!

The next ATRG-Meeting will be held in Hongkong, HKSAR, China June 6th to 9th in 1999. One thing you can be sure of : the programme will be just as good as it was when Dr Aisling organi-zed it in Dublin, or better. Airport access will be unprecedentedly better ! Chek Lap Kok , Hongkong’s new international Airport is waiting for you to offer the best to the air trans-port research community: highly recommended !

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