There is confusion over the future of the Kerry-Dublin air route, following conflicting statements from the Government and Ryanair.
The Department of Transport this afternoon announced that Ryanair would begin operating flights between Dublin and Kerry on a commercial basis later this month.
The route had previously been served by Stobart Air under a Public Service Obligation (PSO) agreement, which saw the State subsidise its operation.
However, flights have been halted for almost a month, following the collapse of Stobart Air.
In its statement, the department said Ryanair would launch services between the two counties on 19 July, operating for at least seven months and at a higher capacity than was previously the case.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said the decision was "a really good outcome for the Kerry region" and would help support "the local economy as it begins its recovery from Covid".
However, a subsequent Ryanair statement said that, while it had offered to operate a non-subsidised service between Dublin and Kerry, no agreement had yet been concluded.
It said the statement from Minister Ryan was issued without it being consulted, and was "premature and inaccurate".
When asked for details on the issues it had with the statement, a Ryanair spokesperson said "all queries can be directed to the Minister of Transport who should be the one to explain".
In its response, the Department of Transport detailed the stages of its correspondence with the airline, and said that Ryanair had asked for the department to accept its offer by the close of business today.
It said it contacted Ryanair's CEO this afternoon to confirm the minister's acceptance, and informed them that an announcement on the service would also be made today.
The department said that Ryanair expressed a preference to make an announcement on the route on Monday.
However, the minister wished to do so today, as he also needed to inform the other companies who had bid to serve the route of his decision.
Preferred bidder selected for Donegal-Dublin route
Alongside the announcement on the Kerry-Dublin route, the Department of Transport also said it has selected a preferred bidder to replace Stobart on the Donegal-Dublin service, which will continue to operate under a PSO.
The company that has been selected as the preferred bidder has not yet been revealed, but the department said contract negotiations have begun.
"I'm hopeful that I'll be able to announce the preferred bidder shortly with a view to services resuming, on the same basis as before, in the week commencing 19 July," said Minister of State Hidegarde Naughton.
"Government funded air services on the Donegal route provide vital connectivity for Donegal and the North-West region."