The Transport Minister has been urged to “get his act together” and to step up supports for Shannon Airport.
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley made the comments as he expressed concern at falling passenger numbers at the Airport.
The Department of Transport argues that Shannon is the fastest growing airport outside of Dublin, but in doing so they’re comparing 2018 statistics with 2012, when Shannon was last under control of the DAA.
More recent figures show the rate of growth has slowed, and the Airport says passenger numbers will fall this year as it’s impacted by the withdrawal of some transatlantic services, owing to the issues associated with the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
Deputy Dooley says the State needs to do more for Shannon:
Statement from Shannon Airport
Shannon Group Acting CEO Mary Considine has said “We welcome the call for support for Shannon Airport, which faces specific challenges that no other Irish airport does.
“On the one hand we have been disproportionately affected by the world-wide grounding this year of the 737 Max aircraft, which is operated by Norwegian Air International and Air Canada across its services here.
Some 120,000 less seats than anticipated are available at Shannon Airport as a result, which equates to around 6% of passengers in total. This will effectively wipe out our growth plans for this year and prevent us from building on the 34% growth in passenger numbers already achieved at Shannon since separation in 2012.
It’s an issue not just for Shannon Airport but for the region as it is estimated to result in a loss of circa €60million in tourism spend regionally.
“In response, we are making two key asks of government and welcome support for theses. One is for funding for safety and security projects, funding that we believe Shannon is entitled to under EU rules for airports under 3million passengers.
Other privately-owned airports elsewhere in Ireland receive government investment for capital projects and we are simply asking for this investment to be extended to Shannon.
The other ask we are making is for an increase in Tourism Ireland Marketing funds to airlines serving Shannon, particularly with a view to securing vital EU hub connectivity, facilitating improved trade and tourism links for this region in the event of Brexit.
Together, these supports, would not alone enable Shannon to quickly return to growth but help ensure the goals set out by Project Ireland 2040 for regional development are achieved.”