Saturday 18 November 2017

Shannon 'set to break even' just a year after its split from DAA

Neil Pakey
Neil Pakey
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Shannon Airport is on target to break even this year after being separated from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) last December, according to its new chief executive, Neil Pakey.

Speaking to the Irish Independent ahead of a speech to the Shannon Chamber, Mr Pakey said he's confident that the airport can achieve goals set out in a report published prior to its separation.

At the time, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said that if Shannon couldn't boost its annual traffic numbers from 1.6 million to 2.5 million by 2021, then it was unlikely the airport had a long-term future.

"I think the 2.5 million is achievable. It's a good forecast. It's not conservative but it's realistic and businesses in the region will need to work together to achieve it," said Mr Pakey, a Scot who was previously a senior executive with Vantage Airports Group with responsibility for 18 airports in Canada, Cyprus, the UK and the Caribbean.

In June, for the first time in five years, Shannon managed to stem declining passenger numbers. That month, passenger numbers rose 8pc to 160,573, while in July they climbed 9pc to 173,558.

The figures have been boosted by a surge in transatlantic traffic in the summer as airlines including United Airlines and US Airways inaugurated services.

Aer Lingus has pledged to operate a year-round services to the US from Shannon and will boost capacity from the airport on transatlantic services next summer.

Mr Pakey conceded that much of the US traffic growth this summer has been driven by the Government's 'Gathering' initiative, but he's hopeful that the passenger figures can be replicated next year.

"We don't think it's just a spike and we're going to aim for some growth," he said, adding that Shannon was also trying to encourage carriers to operate more transatlantic services in the so-called shoulder months of April and October.

He also said that Shannon was in on-going talks with both Ryanair and Aer Lingus regarding potential short-haul services.

"It is a challenge, there's no doubt so we have to make sure we're as competitive as we can be," he said.

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