The chairwoman of Shannon Airport has said it is now self-sustaining and its fortunes will be turned around this year.
Rose Hynes was speaking at the launch at the airport yesterday of a new United Airlines seasonal service to the airline's Chicago hub from Shannon.
"We are projecting that we are going to grow the passenger numbers. We are not giving projections at this point – it is just too soon to say," she said.
Asked whether the airport could return to profit this year after years of successive losses, Ms Hynes would only say: "This year, we expect that we will turn things around. I am not saying any more than that."
The new Shannon entity is due to be merged with Shannon Development and will be able to draw funds from Shannon Development's annual rental stream that recorded gross revenues of €12m in 2011.
However, legislation allowing for the merger of Shannon Airport with Shannon Development has now been delayed until autumn.
Ms Hynes revealed that it would be some months after the passing of the legislation before the airport would be able to receive the rent revenues.
Asked how the airport would fund itself before the rent revenues came on stream, Ms Hynes said: "The airport has its own facilities, its own operations. It is independent, it is self-sustaining. That's the way it was always intended and that is the way it is."
Ms Hynes added: "The airport is on its own, it is an independent airport."
Ms Hynes confirmed that the airport was currently in discussions with several airlines on establishing new routes.
She said: "We have a lot of discussions under way – we are expecting good news again. We have a lot of things under way; I just can't tell you how quickly we can pull it off."
Ms Hynes said that she was "absolutely thrilled" with the new Chicago route.