New year and era dawn for independent Shannon
THE woman tasked to rebuild a profitable Shannon airport has predicted a growth in passenger numbers.
Newly appointed Shannon Airport Authority chair Rose Hynes welcomed the official separation of Shannon from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
A debt free independent Shannon Airport, as agreed by the Government, came into being at midnight yesterday.
The first passengers to transit through the independent Shannon Airport arrived on board Aer Lingus EI-110 flight from JFK in New York at 5am.
Prior to the government decision to allow Shannon determine its own future, the airport was managed by the DAA since 2004 and suffered a significant fall in passenger numbers in recent years.
Ms Hynes said the establishment of an independent airport was a "historic day".
"We finally have our long-awaited freedom to determine our own future.
"Independence is the single most important enabler of future success for Shannon," Ms Hynes said.
"This is an opportunity for the airport to commence a new chapter in its proud history," she added.
The Clare airport has commenced operations for the year on a solid footing by way of a debt-free balance sheet and a business plan with an immediate focus on growing passenger numbers and route development.
Ms Hynes, a former executive with aircraft leasing firm GPA, worked in Shannon for 14 years from 1988 to 2002.
She said she believed there would be an "appreciable difference" at the new airport within 12 months.
At the peak of the boom period, 3.6 million passengers passed through Shannon on an annual basis.
Ms Hynes said management would be concentrating efforts on increasing passenger numbers from a low of 1.6 million to 2.5 million within five years.
Already it is expected that transatlantic passenger numbers will increase this year by 22pc after the airport secured new services to Philadelphia and Chicago.
The airport will also work towards the development of the international aviation services centre at Shannon, which is targeting the creation of a significant number of primarily aviation-related jobs within a three to five-year period.
Currently, there is an existing cluster of 40 aviation-related companies in Shannon.
The second of a two-phase process for the new Shannon airport entity will see the merging of the airport by July 1 next, with activities of a restructured Shannon Development, including its considerable landbank and associated rent-roll.
Across the western seaboard, there has been a widespread welcome, from both tourism and business sectors, for a debt-free airport which will manage its own affairs.