Sunday 26 January 2020

US aviation firm to invest $3m in new Shannon base

The arrivals terminal at Shannon Airport
The arrivals terminal at Shannon Airport

US-based Vortex Aviation will invest up to $3m (€2.2m) and create as many as 25 jobs in Shannon when it opens a new aircraft engine servicing facility there within the next three months, the Irish Independent has learned.

Vortex Aviation president Patrick Kaufman confirmed that the company is currently sourcing a large premises and is engaged in talks with aviation authorities and its own bankers.

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a big slice of Vortex's business is derived from servicing aircraft engines belonging to leasing companies. It primarily focuses on engines manufactured by General Electric.

Mr Kaufman said the company's engineers service engines all over the world, but it had been looking to establish a base closer to its European customers.

He said that a number of other countries had been considered for the investment, including Germany.

"Ireland is a centre for aviation and that really attracted us," he said, adding that the fact most of the world's top aircraft leasing firms have a significant presence in Ireland also helped to cement its decision to set up here.

He said that the company may base itself within the Shannon Free Zone trade area that's adjacent to the airport, but that it was also examining other options that would still see it based close to the airport.

He said Vortex is currently sourcing operational space extending between 20,000 and 30,000 sq ft for its new Irish arm.

Three people will be based there initially, with the number rising to between 20 and 25.

Mr Kaufman said the company intends to hire Irish talent for the jobs.

Ireland has a strong record in the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector. Shannon-based company Eirtech, which paints and retrofits for international carriers, was recently sold to US-based Vance Street Capital.

Other MRO operators include Conor McCarthy's Dublin Aerospace.

The new Vortex operation is a coup for Shannon Airport, which is now a standalone entity and headed by chief executive Neil Pakey. It was spun out of the DAA back in 2012.

It has since enticed carriers, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, to expand services from the airport.

Its passenger numbers in the first six months of this year are up 15pc on the first half of 2013.

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