Shannon Airport’s passenger numbers plunged 79pc to 352,000 last year as the pandemic hammered its business.
But Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine said the company is committed to rebuilding its business, which also includes the management of a number of tourist attractions such as Bunratty Castle.
Ms Considine said that Covid a “devastating impact” on two of the semi-State group’s two business operations.
“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 other attractions such as King John’s Castle in Limerick, which it also owns. 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 the 963,000 they had in 2019.
Ms Considine said that before the pandemic, Shannon Group’s activities supported more than 46,000 jobs, and had a wider economic impact of €3.6bn a year. Those activities were generating €1.1bn for the Exchequer every year, according to the company.
“With Ryanair set to reopen its base and operate 14 new routes from Shannon for summer 2021 there are green shoots, but we recognise that recovery will be slow, rebuilding will take time, but we will get there,” insisted Ms Considine.
“Crucial to recovery will be the lifting of global travel restrictions once it is safe to do so,” she added. “Also vital is the accelerated and successful rollout of the national vaccination programme. The speed at which vaccines can be rolled out nationally and internationally is directly linked to our economic recovery.”
Shannon Group is planning to develop two advanced manufacturing and logistics facilities totalling 100,000 sq ft, and to upgrade two existing units in the Shannon Free Zone.
Ms Considine said such developments are stimulating foreign direct investment in the region.
Separately, the DAA, the semi-State company that operates Dublin and Cork airports, said yesterday that its long-time chief financial officer, Ray Gray, is to leave the group later in the year.
A search has begun for a successor and Mr Gray will remain in his role until one is appointed.