A TD has said there is great concern in the midwest about the long-term viability of Shannon Airport in Co Clare.

Independent TD Michael Harty told the Dáil the airport was "an iconic institution" in the midwest and was an "essential driver" for regional development.

Speaking during Leaders' Questions he said it was the first port of call for emergency transatlantic landings.

He said Shannon Airport has not been supported to perform as well as was envisaged, which he said was having a knock on effect on the sustainability of the midwest region.

He said Shannon lacked strong Government support and he said Dublin Airport commanded a 90% monopoly of aviation traffic in an already congested city.

The Clare TD said a mechanism needs to be found to encourage new routes into Shannon Airport.

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was a very strong supporter of Shannon.

Mr Varadkar said there has been a huge amount of job created in the industrial zone around the airport.

He said passenger numbers went up last year, but he acknowledged they were down this year which he said was a concern.

Mr Varadkar said the Government needed to examine how they could support Shannon Airport to develop new routes.

However, he said the Government needed to be mindful that there were other airports that they had to take account of, including Cork, Ireland West Airport Knock and Waterford.

The Taoiseach said Dublin Airport receives no Government support but in contrast the Government takes one third of its profits to invest in services.

He added that the Government did support regional airports including Knock, Waterford and Kerry.