Shannon Town Council is asking the Minister for Transport to explain what he intends to do to reinstate the Shannon to Heathrow link following Aer Lingus' decision to drop the service.

Shannon Town Council has also called on the Government to explain why Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow airport were not 'ring fenced' in the interests of Shannon Airport, as requested by the local authority more than two years ago.

And the Council for the West has called on politicians from all parties to work together to find solutions to the Aer Lingus decision.

Meanwhile, Shannon Development has called an emergency meeting of business, tourism and community leaders in the region to agree a response to the Aer Lingus decision to end its Shannon to Heathrow service.

The private meeting will be chaired by John Brassil, Chairman of Shannon Development, and is scheduled for 10 August.

Mr Brassil said the purpose of the meeting is to review the Aer Lingus decision and its potential economic impact.

The group also hopes to agree a co-ordinated strategy and action plan.

This afternoon a specially convened meeting of the IBEC Regional Executive Council met with a group of companies based in the Shannon area.

The 20 businesses, both indigenous and international companies, said they could not believe the decision to discontinue the Shannon to Heathrow route despite it being a very profitable service.

Those at the meeting said this decision is part of what they see as a continuous downturn of key services to the region.

The group said that if solutions cannot be found immediately then the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, should intervene.

Further meetings of the group of businesses are planned over the coming days.

Meanwhile, two companies in Shannon have spoken of the threat their businesses are facing following the Aer Lingus decision to abandon its daily Shannon to Heathrow service.

Ken Sullivan, General Manager of Element Six, which distributes man-made diamonds globally out of Shannon, said the company's 600 employees face an uncertain future.

Element Six, which was formerly De Beers Industrial Diamonds, has been in Shannon for the past 45 years.

Mr Sullivan said that the rational for the operation remaining in Shannon was challenged without a local air service to Heathrow.

And the computer company, Avocent, which employs 160 people, has also said the Aer Lingus move would make it much more difficult to pitch for new investment in the region.

Avocent and Element Six have been building their employment presence in Shannon and both say 90% of their customers connect via Heathrow when visiting their respective offices.

Both employers say a new carrier from Shannon to Heathrow needs to be found in the near future.

This afternoon, Michael Noonan, Fine Gael TD for Limerick East, has said he has asked British Airways' Chief Executive Willie Walsh to provide a Shannon to Heathrow service to replace the one being discontinued by Aer Lingus.