Shannon board tight-lipped on question of independence
SENIOR management at Shannon Airport have refused to indicate whether they are to seek independence from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
The Shannon Airport Authority (SAA) is due to submit a major business plan to the Government next year, but chairman Brian O'Connell would not reveal whether the airport would seek to control its destiny in future years.
There is major frustration in the business and tourism industries across the mid-west region that the DAA is continuing to control Shannon Airport.
There are widespread fears over the sustainability of Shannon following the increase in airport charges, effectively ordered by the DAA, while passenger numbers continue to fall. A decision on the future governance of Shannon and Cork airports is not expected until late next year.
Speaking in Dromoland Castle, Co Clare, yesterday -- where the SAA unveiled its medium-term strategy to grow and develop the airport -- Mr O'Connell said the "commercial viability of Shannon is key before we decide on independence".
Mr O'Connell is also a member of the DAA board and admitted the DAA continued to make decisions for Shannon. He repeatedly refused to say whether Shannon would seek independence as part of their proposal to the Government next year.
"We will approach this in a calm and professional basis. We will stand back and do a full analysis on it; we will then look at the proposals and take it from there," Mr O'Connell said.
From a high of 3.6 million passengers in 2006 and 2007, Shannon Airport's passenger figures decreased to 3.2 million in 2008 before dropping to 2.8 million last year.
It is anticipated that this year's figures will drop by almost half to 1.5 million.
As part of their strategy, the SAA said they hoped to restore passenger numbers to 2.5 million within five years.