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Embattled Aer Arann service isn't going anywhere for another year

The Department of the Gaeltacht said its contract with the airline has been extended for one year, at a cost of €1.62 million.

Image: RollingNews.ie

GALWAY AIRLINE AER Arann Islands will continue to fly to the Aran Islands for at least another year, it has been confirmed.

The decision to award the state’s air service contract to Galway-based helicopter company Executive Helicopters Limited was overturned last month, after concerns were raised about the ending of daily flights to the three islands.

Aer Arann Islands, the existing service provider, will continue running an interim service to the islands until the end of September 2016, during which time a procurement process will take place for a new tender.

The airline had fought back against the now-cancelled helicopter contract, saying the decision would have likely led to the loss of 40 jobs with the service.

Climbdown

After a climbdown over the tender last month, the Department of the Gaeltacht said this evening that its contract with Aer Arann Islands has been extended for one year, at a cost of  €1.62 million.

It said in a statement: “The same level of grant-aided service will be provided under this extension as is available at present.”

The decision to withdraw Aer Arann’s state funding had been met with significant opposition from residents.

Most of the objections to the helicopter service centred around plans to run it out of Galway Airport in Carnmore, some five miles east of Galway city.

Locals feared that the 30-mile distance between Carnmore and Rossaveal, from where ferries to the islands depart, would have left travellers stranded if flights were cancelled.

Read: Aran Islands helicopter contract cancelled after backlash from locals

Read: From hand-knitted socks to Grace Kelly – the evolution of the Aran jumper

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Catherine Healy

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