Shannon Group has been in talks with online retail giant Amazon about the possibility of locating a significant distribution facility and other infrastructure at Shannon Airport in what would be a major coup for the region.
The Irish Independent understands that talks have been under way for some time and have progressed to an advanced stage.
It comes as Amazon is poised to rent property in Dublin to use as a fulfilment centre.
That would be its first such operation in Ireland and would help the retailer to bypass issues caused by Brexit in servicing the Irish market. The 650,000 sq ft facility is located close to Baldonnell airfield.
It’s believed that the plans under consideration by Amazon for Shannon Airport would involve a distribution node rather than a fulfilment operation.
Amazon said it doesn’t comment on “rumour or speculation”.
The US company has invested more than €2bn in Ireland in the past decade and employs about 4,000 people here.
A spokesperson for Shannon Group, the semi-State company that operates Shannon Airport, declined to comment in relation to talks with the internet giant.
However, it confirmed that it’s been working on plans for a new landside/airside cargo facility that will be located on the Shannon Airport campus.
“Shannon Group is uniquely positioned in that it has a significant supply of landside/airside development sites suitable for distribution of goods by both air and road,” said the spokesperson.
In the past five years, Shannon Group has delivered one million square feet of new and refurbished aviation, office and manufacturing facilities.
Tenants to move to the Shannon Free Zone have included Jaguar Land Rover, Edward Lifesciences and MeiraGtx, a clinical-stage gene therapy company.
“Shannon Group’s commercial property company, Shannon Commercial Properties, has just kicked off the next phase of their development strategy for Shannon Free Zone, where they propose to develop 140,000 sq ft of new warehousing, distribution and manufacturing space,” added a spokesperson.
Shannon Group has endured a difficult year, with the pandemic hitting core businesses including Shannon Airport and a number of tourist attractions it manages around the country.
Shannon Group chief executive Mary Considine said last month that the company is committed to rebuilding its business following the Covid crisis.
She said the pandemic has had a “devastating impact” on its airport and visitor attractions activities.
“But with the right supports, the foundations for recovery exist within Shannon Group, namely our improved core airport infrastructure, vibrant property portfolio, strong tourism offering and vibrant aviation cluster,” she added.
Shannon Group manages attractions such as King John’s Castle in Limerick, which it also owns, and Bunratty Castle. Other venues it oversees include the GPO Witness History Museum in Dublin, Malahide Castle and Newbridge House and Farm.
Its heritage sites welcomed just 302,000 visitors in 2020, a 69pc reduction on 2019. Shannon Airport’s passenger numbers fell 79pc to 352,000 last year.