Shannon must break from DAA control -- TD
Concerns about Shannon Airport's sustainability under the current management structure -- whereby all decisions for it are made by the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) -- have been raised by Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan as new routes were secured for the airport.
Amid growing concerns of a continuing diminution by the DAA of Shannon's decision- making powers, Ms O'Sullivan said that while the success in securing the new routes for Shannon under the Aer Lingus-Aer Arann franchise agreement must not be overlooked, it was "completely ridiculous" for Shannon to be controlled by the DAA.
"The size of Dublin Airport means that decisions are made in Dublin's interest rather than Shannon and this has to stop. How long can this go on for?" she asked.
Ms O'Sullivan pointed to falling passenger numbers at the Clare airport and warned that "business at Shannon is unsustainable".
"We need a decision by the Government and the DAA to give Shannon Airport full decision-making powers and allow it to secure its own future," she said.
Overall passenger numbers at Shannon slumped 12pc last year to 2.8 million, including a 23pc fall in transatlantic numbers to 442,000.
Aer Arann yesterday confirmed it is to launch four new routes to the UK from Shannon under its franchise agreement with Aer Lingus, where it operates aircraft under the latter's livery. The routes will operate to Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow and Bristol. MEP for Ireland South, Alan Kelly, said Shannon Airport needed "a complete overhaul".
"Something radical has to happen," Mr Kelly said.
Fine Gael's Kieran O'Donnell said an independently viable and debt-free airport was vital for the region.
"When Shannon does become independent, it must be entirely debt-free so it can survive and thrive for the mid-west region. I am requesting an updated report from the DAA and the Transport Minister as to what structure will ensure Shannon is viable and debt- free," Mr O'Donnell said.
When asked when Shannon would achieve full autonomy from the DAA, chairman of Shannon Airport Authority and DAA board member Brian O'Connell said that no one is dictating to the airport.
"Nobody is dictating to either side one way or the other," he said. "It is a partnership arrangement. Our job as a board is to help and support the management team here (in Shannon) to shape and form new opportunities for the airport."