Civil air transport (including commercial and private air services) in Ireland is regulated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. Since 1995, the European Union (EU) has had a liberalised air transport market, meaning that there are no restrictions on frequency, flights or routes that airlines of Member States fly within the EU/European Economic Area (EEA). The liberalised air transport market in the EU has meant more frequent flights, greater availability, further destinations, lower fares and increased choice for the traveller. Airlines from countries outside of the EU/EEA must request permission each time they wish to fly to, from or over Ireland and these requests are forwarded in writing to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport where they are examined to ensure compliance with the highest standards of safety, airworthiness and insurance. (Military air transport in Ireland is regulated by the Department of Defence).
There are a total of 9 airports in Ireland. Three of these airports - Dublin, Cork and Shannon - are owned by the Irish government and operated on its behalf by separate airport authorities. (That is, Dublin, Cork, and Shannon Airport Authorities). The other Irish airports at Waterford, Knock, Galway, Sligo, Donegal and Kerry are privately owned.
Under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2006 airport authorities are responsible for ensuring that an intending passenger with reduced mobility receives the necessary assistance from designated points of arrival at the airport to the point of boarding the aircraft. There is a similar provision for passengers who are landing at an EU airport. The Commission for Aviation Regulation is the National Enforcement Body for this Regulation in Ireland.
If you are travelling to/from an airport in Ireland, you should notify your airline at least 48 hours in advance if you require any special facilities.
The Air Accident Investigation Unit is located at the Department of Transport and has responsibility for investigating all aircraft accidents and incidents within Ireland. Reports of all air accidents, incidents and investigations within Ireland are available to download or by post and you can register to receive e-mail notifications of new postings on the Unit's website.
The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is a state agency that has responsibility for a range of operational and regulatory functions and services relating to the safety and technical aspects of civil aviation in Ireland. The IAA, for example, operates the Air Traffic Control Centres around Ireland and monitor Ireland's airspace. In addition, the IAA issues licences to aircraft pilots, registers aircraft and ensures that civil aviation in Ireland adheres to the highest international standards of safety.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation is responsible for setting the maximum level of airport and aviation terminal services charges and also has an important role in licensing the travel trade in Ireland. It grants licences to both tour operators and travel agents. As part of this function, the Commission administers a bonding scheme. The Commission also licenses Irish airlines, approves groundhandling services providers under regulations implementing EU legislation and assesses capacity at Irish airports and decides the manner in which take-off and landing slots are administered.
The Commission also has a consumer protection role. It enforces EU legislation covering air passenger rights and the provision of assistance to passengers with reduced mobility.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.