Monday 11 December 2017

Slattery slams State's indecision on Shannon

Gordon Deegan

A LEADING aviation entrepreneur said yesterday that the outcome for Shannon Airport under government proposals "will be uninteresting, moribund and people losing jobs".

At an Irish Business Aviation Convention organised by Shannon Airport and Shannon Development at Dromoland Castle yesterday, financier Domhnal Slattery also hit out at the government move to establish a task force and two steering groups to chart Shannon Airport's future.

"Committees are a useful forum, but don't start businesses and are very rarely effective," he said.

In May, the Government announced that Shannon would be hived off from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), but remain in public ownership. The Government has established a steering group and two task forces to deal with issues around Shannon securing independence.

Mr Slattery, the chief executive of aircraft leasing firm Avolon, said that the Government "has pretended to do something by putting Shannon into an interregnum, but has only kicked the can down the road, made it someone else's problem and put off the ultimate decision".

"This blather about Shannon being a strategic asset is a total irrelevancy. Airports that are privately owned all over the world do better than airports that are government-owned.

"Heathrow, that is a strategic asset and it is privately owned. Edinburgh airport -- strategic asset for Scotland and it is privately owned. Shannon -- who cares from a strategic asset perspective?"

Mr Slattery said the future of Shannon was not in traditional commercial aviation, but in business aviation.

The Co Clare man -- who reportedly turned down a government offer last year to chair the DAA -- said he applauded Transport Minister Leo Varadkar's plans to put in place tax incentives to establish a centre of aviation excellence there.

He said the commercial aircraft leasing and financing space was really started eight miles down the road at Shannon by the late Tony Ryan. "It's now a business that in the next five years will finance probably $300bn dollars worth of aircraft, from acorns."

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