Paul Weatherall, Candidate for Ayre & Michael on Ferry and Air Links

As an essential monopoly, it is right that our outgoing government made the strategic decision to take the Steam Packet into public ownership and ensure that it has the financial resources to maintain and develop services.
The last eighteen months have been difficult in terms of income generation and balancing covid restrictions with delivering the freight we depend upon, and allowing essential passenger travel. I hope that the 2022 season will see a return to normal service being resumed. Government needs to provide the policy framework and work with the Steam Packet on promoting the Island as a tourist destination, but then give the company the freedom to make the operational decisions to deliver what has been agreed. The project to replace the landing stage in Liverpool should be fully reviewed by the incoming administration.
The global aviation industry is reeling from the covid pandemic and restrictions on world and local travel. The companies providing air links to the Island are no exception. It is right that subsidies have been paid to ensure that essential routes have been kept open throughout the pandemic. It will take some time to adjust when our border with the UK, Ireland and elsewhere are fully open again, and it is too early to forecast which airlines may be available to provide continuing services as we all start to feel more confident about travelling, and visitor numbers rise again.
It may be that our government will have to consider full or part ownership of an airline in the future and we need to prepare for that eventuality. However, there are too many unknowns to make such a decision at the moment. If I’m elected I will be keeping a watching brief on this and support action to ensure that air routes meet our needs and those of our visitors.