Varadkar orders study to help decide on airport ownership
TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar has commissioned a study to help him to decide the future ownership of Cork and Shannon airports.
The report will be carried out by consultants Booz and Company, and is expected to be completed within a month. The minister is due to announce his decision on the airports by the end of this year.
The report comes as the airport authorities have told Mr Varadkar they do not want to see Cork and Shannon airports separated from Dublin.
Yesterday, he said he was "not surprised" there was "no support" for the separation, but that things will have to change. The airports are citing the current economic difficulties as a reason to maintain the status quo.
But the minister disagrees. "The present half-way house arrangement, in place since 2004, whereby Cork and Shannon have their own boards but have limited autonomy from the Dublin Airport Authority, cannot continue indefinitely" he said.
"Nor can the situation continue whereby losses at Cork and Shannon are absorbed by the remaining profitable parts of the DAA Group."
Mr Varadkar said the decision to address the ownership of the airports fell to him now because his predecessor, Noel Dempsey, postponed making it until 2011.
The separation of Cork and Shannon airports from Dublin was to follow the State Airports Act in 2004. At that time, the authorities at the airports decided the climate "was not right" for separation because of the difficult circumstances for the aviation sector.