Loss of Shannon-Heathrow route a ‘significant blow’ to Roscommon – WDC The loss of the Shannon to Heathrow route is a ‘significant blow to Roscommon’, according to the Western Development Commission. ‘The WDC has continually argued for investment in transport infrastructure, seeing efficient access to and within the Western region as a necessary foundation for balanced regional development. The ongoing improvements in road and rail infrastructure will enhance surface travel in the West and help maintain its competitiveness. Similarly excellent international air access is vital to allow the region to maintain and build global competitiveness’, said Western Development Commission CEO Ms. Gillian Buckley. ‘Therefore, the Aer Lingus announcement to cease services from Shannon to Heathrow is very disappointing and is a significant blow to western development’, said Ms. Buckley. ‘This service is a critical route linking the West of Ireland to the international hub at Heathrow and is very important to the business and tourism interests of our region,’ she continued. ‘Yet again, it shows the absolute imperative of having better access to the Western region by way of road and rail, as these in themselves will draw more people to use facilities such as Shannon airport, rebalancing growth and helping alleviate the severe congestion problems on the East coast. Giving a greater number of people access to Shannon gives that airport a greater critical mass that in turn leads to more, not less, key air routes. The Atlantic Corridor motorway and the Western Rail Corridor should now be the infrastructure priorities for the country’. Ms. Buckley noted that the WDC has consistently pointed out the importance of international air access to the development of the economy of the West. ‘Just as we have supported the development of Ireland West Airport Knock as it is ideally placed to serve the north of our region, we are very conscious of the key importance of Shannon Airport as a key element of the transport infrastructure in the south of our region. Any reduction in services from Shannon is not in the interests of the West or balanced regional development. In fact it is the WDC’s view that there is an ongoing need to expand international air services into the Western Region in order to help achieve balanced development for the entire country.’ ‘International air access is vital to our region, positioned as it is on the periphery of the western seaboard remote from global markets. It allows fast connectivity to international markets where the customers and suppliers of businesses in our region are located. The knowledge economy in particular, requires the efficient movement of highly skilled people between international centres’, said Ms. Buckley.