Shannon boss Pakey to leave in 2016 amid 'tensions'
The chief executive of Shannon Group is to leave his role when his contract expires next year in what could be a major blow for the region. The group is responsible for the operation of Shannon Airport.
Aviation veteran Neil Pakey was appointed chief executive of the airport company in May 2013, just five months after it gained independence from the DAA, which now controls Dublin and Cork airports.
Despite showering each other with praise in a statement released yesterday, it is believed that tensions have arisen between Mr Pakey and Shannon Group chairperson Rose Hynes. Ms Hynes resigned in October as chairperson of Ervia, the State-owned company that controls Irish Water.
Shannon Group controls the airport and other interests including Shannon Heritage.
Shannon Group lauded Mr Pakey yesterday, saying that since he joined, the company has enjoyed a strong performance. "Neil came on board as CEO at an exciting time for Shannon as it embarked on life as an independent entity and during his tenure many milestones have been achieved," said Ms Hynes.
"From an airport perspective, we have returned Shannon to growth following five years of successive decline and by the end of 2015 passenger numbers will be up by 22pc from where we started out."
She added: "We would like to thank Neil for this vital contribution to the revitalisation of Shannon Airport and formation of the wider group. He will leave in June with Shannon Group on a very positive footing, primed for growth, and we now embark on the task of appointing his successor."
Mr Pakey said in the same statement that he was looking forward to a new challenge having completed his term.
"I've worked with a great management team and a great board and we've really transformed the Shannon Group during the past three years," he said.
"I would like to thank the board for having given me the opportunity as well as for their support during the last three years," he added. "There's an exciting future ahead for the group and I wish the board well in recruiting a new CEO to carry on this work."
Shannon Airport halted five successive years of declines in passenger numbers in 2013, and in 2014 handled 1.64 million passengers, a 17pc rise on 2013.
But in 2015, the figures have been somewhat mixed. It enjoyed a boost in the first quarter of 2015, as 213,000 passengers used the airport. That was 38pc more than in the corresponding period in 2014. But passenger growth has since tapered off. In July, passenger numbers rose 2.6pc, but fell almost 4pc in August. Last month, passenger numbers were up 4pc year-on-year at 101,000.