Some 45 jobs could be affected if Aer Lingus goes ahead with its plan to end its Shannon to Heathrow route, according to the Minister of State and Clare TD, Tony Killeen.

Minister Killeen, speaking on RTÉ Radio's News at One, said he understands that reports are correct that Aer Lingus is about to announce an end to its service between Shannon and Heathrow.

The airline is expected to begin a new service between Heathrow and Belfast International Airport instead. 

Mr Killeen said it was bad news on a number of fronts, particularly for employment, as he understood the company may announce at least 45 jobs would be affected.

Mr Killeen said the decision by Aer Lingus was hard to understand, because although the Shannon to Heathrow service had extraordinarily high-load factors, the company says the yield was low.

He said it was too soon to judge if it was a business or political decision and he said the view in the west was that the credibility of Aer Lingus was now in question.

He said the company's decision would have a bad effect on tourism and on business.

Mr Killeen the air route to Heathrow was by far the most important link for business travellers and the west in general traveling to European and other destinations.

Meanwhile, Shannon Development, the regional economic development body for the Shannon area, has said it is very surprised to hear that Aer Lingus is to end its Shannon to Heathrow service.

It added that the route is a key service for business and tourism and a successful one for Aer Lingus and the region.

The group is very disappointed at the proposed withdrawal of the Shannon to Heathrow service and is seeking information and a meeting with Aer Lingus representatives as soon as possible.

Aer Lingus currently operates four flights a day from Shannon to Heathrow.

The official announcement of the transfer of flights is expected to be made by the company's Chief Executive Dermot Mannion after he meets Aer Lingus personnel in Shannon tomorrow morning.