Sunday 22 July 2018

Shannon Airport in line for €1m flood defence payment

Shannon Airport could face a serious threat of flooding due to climate change
Shannon Airport could face a serious threat of flooding due to climate change

Fearghal O'Connor

Shannon Airport is set to receive a special €1m payment from the Exchequer to help protect it against flooding.

The payment is unusual because it is being paid from a €13.4m fund that is generally used to support privately-owned regional airports, such as Ireland West Airport at Knock, as well as to pay subsidies to airlines operating routes as public service obligations.

As a state airport, Shannon - like Dublin - does not usually receive direct financial support from the government due to strict EU state-aid rules. The flood payment to Shannon is awaiting approval as an exception under those rules.

Shannon Airport was identified as a key piece of infrastructure that could face a serious threat of flooding as climate change increases sea level heights and leads to increasingly violent winter storms. That study, by the Office of Public Works, found that Shannon required investment of as much as €40m, it was reported.

The initial €1m payment is related to serious damage sustained during Storm Darwin in February 2014 by the embankment that separates the airport campus from the adjacent River Shannon, which forced the closure of the airport temporarily.

The airport - which achieved its independence from Dublin Airport Authority in 2013 - has seen a number of new services in recent times. In July, rapidly-growing low-cost carrier Norwegian launched two new services to New York and to Providence, Rhode Island. New services have also been launched by SAS to Stockholm and by Lufthansa to Frankfurt.

Nevertheless, recent figures from industry analyst ACI showed that Shannon is lagging behind both Dublin and Cork in terms of growth. Industry analyst ACI Europe published figures in June that showed passenger growth at the airport for the year to date was just 0.8pc. That compared to 6.2pc growth at Dublin and 1.2pc at Cork, although freight growth at the airport was a whopping 14.8pc, compared to just over 4pc at Dublin Airport.

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