Growing passenger numbers top priority at independent Shannon
The immediate focus and priority for the new independent Shannon Airport will be on passenger growth, Rose Hynes, chair of the aviation business development task force, said yesterday.
Ms Hynes predicts a noticeable change at the beleaguered airport within a year.
"Shannon is to be master of its own destiny and I think things are going to change," she said.
"I don't see it as anything other than an opportunity for the future."
Passenger numbers at Shannon soared to 3.6 million in 2009 but fell dramatically to 1.6 million last year.
"What we are planning is that, over a five-year period, Shannon will grow to 2.5 million passengers – almost a million more than what it had in the last number of years.
"That is not an overly ambitious target but it will take doing – it won't be easy.
"We intend to prioritise passenger growth.
"We hope to see a lot happening in the new year. The task force engaged with a lot of airlines and we are hoping to convince them to do business.
"There are already some early wins – announcements with two new US routes in the last number of weeks," she said.
Ms Hynes is a former executive with aircraft-leasing firm GPA and worked in Shannon for 14 years from 1988 to 2002.
She also served as board member with Shannon Airport Authority and is chair of Bord Gais. She was speaking yesterday at the Shannon Chamber President's lunch.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Mid-West Task Force said the future for staff at Shannon Airport was far more secure under an independent Shannon than under the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
In his first public comment since the separation of Shannon Airport from the DAA was announced, Denis Brosnan – the author of a report that recommended autonomy – said he understood staff concerns regarding their future but insisted their jobs were as secure now as they would ever be with the DAA.
"They transfer over to this new entity with the exact same terms and conditions that they have as employees of the DAA. This is a condition by law. There is always nervousness around change but, if anything, staff future is far more secure under an independent Shannon than under the DAA," said Mr Brosnan.
The founder of Kerry Group plc, Mr Brosnan said that the region would be best served by an independent Shannon.
"There are outstanding people in the DAA but the reality is that they are focussed on Dublin Airport. In recent years, in addition to day-to-day operations, they had also undertaken what is likely to be the single biggest aviation project on this island, the development of Terminal 2, so clearly Shannon was not Dublin's priority," he said.