Air Canada’s newly announced direct flights from Shannon to Toronto will open up more trade, investment and tourism opportunities for the Mid West, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen has said.
“The announcement today by Air Canada of the new direct service from Shannon to Toronto will not only help to deepen relationships between Canada and Ireland, these new flights will also open up more trade, investment and tourism opportunities,” said Minister Breen.
“With the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) agreement about to kick in, and both Ireland and Canada looking to diversify their trade and investment link across the world, the development of a strong relationship between our neighbours to the west and an industrial area like Shannon and the Mid West is beneficial to both countries,” added the Clare Minister of State.
“Ireland has been one of the strongest supporters of CETA within the EU and the Department of Jobs, Employment and Innovation has estimated that Irish exports to Canada will increase by approximately €250 million per annum.
“These new direct flights four times a week from Shannon directly to Toronto will allow local SMEs to look at Canada to break into the export market.
“Canada’s affinity and proximity to Ireland – the nearest English speaking country apart from Britain-, our common law heritage, and similar parliamentary system makes us ideal trading partners,” he said.
“Brand Ireland is also strong in Canada and there is a strong affinity with Ireland among 14% of the population as 4.5 million Canadians claim Irish heritage.
“I see great prospects for growing Irish exports, securing increased Canadian investment and increasing tourism numbers from Canada,” said Minister Breen.
“Ireland- and particularly the west of Ireland- is also growing in favour among Canadian travellers. Over 165,000 Canadian tourists visited Ireland in 2015 spending an estimated €133 million.
“2016 was the best year ever for Irish tourism from Canada – with visitor numbers increasing by 16% over 2015,” said Minster Breen.
“Tourism Ireland research shows that 54% of Canadian holidaymakers stay in the Shannon Catchment Area, that is 89,100 visitors, while only 10% stay in Dublin.
“I therefore believe the tourist market demanded these new flights into Shannon and research suggests that there is a potential Canadian passenger volume for Shannon of 150,000 people when taking into account the two way flow,” added Minister Breen.
The newly announced flights connecting Shannon directly with the Canadian hub is the result of the culmination of months of work by, the Shannon Group, Government bodies, the Irish and Canadian Governments and the business communities of both countries.
The negotiation process was part of a Ministerial Trade and Investment Mission to Montreal in April this year, led by Minister Breen.
“In the course of that trade mission I met with many industry leaders, including Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu, with whom I discussed the prospects of increased air services from Canada to Ireland, and particularly into Shannon,” said Minister Breen.
The Minister continued to work closely with the Canadian Minister for Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna to help secure such flights, having discussed the issue with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister McKenna during the PMs visit to Dublin in July.
“In all today has been a good news day for Shannon Airport with Ryanair announcing that it will begin Shannon to Barcelona Reus route early next year,” concluded Minister Breen.