Business Irish

Thursday 27 October 2016

Political clash as Lynx Shannon cargo hub plan fails to take off

Gordon Deegan

Published 16/12/2015 | 02:30

Shannon Airport
Shannon Airport

Plans for a €20m international cargo hub at Shannon airport that was to be developed in partnership with a US firm have crash-landed.

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In 2012, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) signed a heads of agreement with Lynx to establish the hub at Shannon.

This followed the two sides entering a Memorandum of Understanding in 2009 to explore jointly the feasibility of developing the cargo hub.

Lynx had proposed that the DAA fund the project with €7m for the Shannon hub.

The Department of Transport had received a business case from the DAA concerning the plan.

Since then, Shannon has gained its independence from the DAA.

Now, in a letter to Clare Co Council, Shannon Airport company secretary Mary Considine has confirmed that the Lynx project won't proceed.

"The Lynx project was conceived prior to the economic downturn and the business plan was materially affected by the subsequent downturn in economic activity and in rental levels," Ms Considine wrote.

She added that the airport carried out various permutations of the Lynx proposal in conjunction with the company with a view to identifying a way forward which made mutual business sense.

"While the cargo facilities would certainly benefit from improvement, we also recognised that before engaging in significant capital expenditure, we needed first to identify the potential demand and convince airlines that Shannon represented an attractive market opportunity," she added.

Ms Considine wrote: "Ultimately, it was not possible to identify a path forward with Lynx which satisfied both parties' commercial requirements and the parties disengaged amicably.

"However, Shannon Group has continued to actively pursue opportunities to develop its freight business."

Ms Considine said that this has resulted in Turkish Airlines Cargo operating ad hoc freighter services through Shannon since the spring.

In response, Fianna Fáil Transport spokesman, Timmy Dooley, said yesterday: "I am not at all surprised that the Lynx proposal will not be proceeding and am only surprised that it took the Shannon Group so long to confirm that there is no potential business."

Deputy Dooley said that as far back as 2008 and 2009, the Lynx project was being touted "as the saving grace of Shannon".

The Clare TD claimed: "There was a massive amount of hype generated by the then opposition who clearly hadn't done their research.

He said: "When a political party puts forward a project, they have to be mindful of the viability of that and this wasn't a viable project."

Deputy Dooley said that he met with Lynx in 2009 "and I concluded then that there was absolutely no live project in Lynx. Lynx was only going to be a landlord - nothing else - and the airport is rightly focused on dealing with airlines versus dealing with landlords".

In reply, Fine Gael Clare TD Joe Carey said that "a range of opportunities for business growth are being pursued by the Shannon Group including enhancing cargo facilities".

He said: "It's high time that everyone across all political parties and none would get behind the Shannon Group and support them in their efforts instead of knocking them at every opportunity."

Irish Independent

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