Shannon Group’s CEO is warning that Ireland is falling ‘behind the curve’ on the return of international aviation.
It comes as those inside and outside the sector locally are calling for a clearer roadmap for the sector to emerge from the pandemic.
A new chairperson for Shannon Group is expected to be appointed before the summer.
The Department of Transport has told Clare FM it’s engaging with the Public Appointments Service to begin the recruitment process for the role of Shannon Group chair once more, effectively meaning the position is being re-advertised.
It comes after many of Clare’s Oireachtas representatives have called for clarity on the vacant position, with the group having been without a permanent chair since Rose Hynes’ tenure ended back in August.
The new chairperson will lead a group that has been impacted more than most by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Shannon recording a 92 percent decrease in passengers between April and December 2020 when compared with the same period in 2019.
Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey says the new Chair of the group must have the expertise to accelerate the airport’s recovery post-pandemic.
The CEO of Shannon Group, meanwhile, is fearful that current restrictions mean Ireland is no longer ‘punching above its weight’ in international aviation terms.
Mary Considine is among those calling on the government to develop and implement an aviation recovery plan for the industry.
Ms Considine says it’s far from certain that even when international travel resumes, that Shannon will be resuming normal levels of activity for some time.
However, one local travel expert holds a more optimistic view, and believes we will see a ‘rush’ of international travel bookings here once restrictions allow.
The EU is hopeful of having its digital green cert in place by the end of July, while the European Commission has also presented plans to open up non-essential travel into the bloc to people who have been vaccinated.
Gearoid Mannion, a travel counsellor in Ennis, does believe demand will be sufficient to ensure airlines remain in the region once travel opens up again.