Shannon Airport hopes to start construction of its new cargo hub early next year, after launching a tender process this week to hire architects for the scheme.
The Irish Independent revealed last month that Shannon Group has been in talks with Amazon about the possibility of the internet giant establishing a major distribution facility and other infrastructure at the airport.
The talks are understood to be at an advanced stage and the new cargo hub at Shannon Airport could help to entice the online retailer.
The cargo hub at Shannon will be located right beside the airport’s apron on a four-acre site. It will include a direct connection to an existing airfield taxiway at the airport.
“The development will incorporate a large 29,708 sq ft distribution facility building with 3,767 sq ft single-storey office ‘ready for occupation’ including all site development and car parking works,” Shannon Group has noted in its request for tenders.
“It is intended that the buildings will be multi-functioning and adaptable to modern business uses," it said.
Shannon Group expects to have a planning application for the facility submitted by this summer, with construction slated to begin during the first quarter of 2022.
Tenders for the construction work are expected to be sought in September and October this year, with construction taking about 10 months.
It was reported earlier this year that Amazon is also poised to rent property in Dublin to use as a fulfilment centre.
That would be its first such operation in Ireland and would help the retailer to bypass issues caused by Brexit in servicing the Irish market. The 650,000 sq ft facility is located close to Baldonnell airfield.
It’s believed that the plans under consideration by Amazon for Shannon Airport would involve a distribution node rather than a fulfilment operation.
Both Shannon Group and Amazon have declined to comment on discussions they’re having.
However, Shannon Group previously confirmed it’s been working on plans for the cargo hub.
“Shannon Group is uniquely positioned in that it has a significant supply of landside/airside development sites suitable for distribution of goods by both air and road,” said a spokesperson for the group last month.
In the past five years, Shannon Group has delivered one million square feet of new and refurbished aviation, office and manufacturing facilities.
Tenants to move to the Shannon Free Zone have included Jaguar Land Rover, Edward Lifesciences and MeiraGtx, a clinical-stage gene therapy company.
The talks between Shannon Group and Amazon have been well-received in the mid-west region, especially as the semi-State company has been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic on its operations.
Apart from operating Shannon Airport and a commercial property portfolio, the firm also manages attractions such as King John’s Castle in Limerick, which it also owns, and Bunratty Castle.
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 2019. Shannon Airport’s passenger numbers fell 79pc to 352,000 last year.