Passenger numbers anticipated to be at 75pc of pre-Covid levels this year
Shannon Airport is performing ahead of expectations and is on course to deliver 75pc to 80pc of pre-pandemic passenger numbers this year.
That is according to the CEO of Shannon Group Mary Considine, who told the June meeting of Clare County Council they are "confident that we are on the right road to recovery" due to the pent-up demand for air travel
In 2019, the airport recorded passenger numbers of 1.7 million. Ms Considine said the airport is hoping for 75pc to 80pc of pre-pandemic traffic this year.
“We are doing much better than we would have anticipated at the start of the year," she said.
An 80pc projection of pre-pandemic passenger figures would deliver passenger numbers of 1.37 million for 2022.
“We have definitely felt the bounce,” she said.
Ms Considine also urged maximum use of Shannon’s three Heathrow slots as the guarantee concerning the slots expires in September. Mr Considine said that if the routes are properly supported, there will never be a question mark over their viability.
In his address, newly appointed chair to Shannon Group, Conal Henry, told councillors Shannon "is in rude health”.
"It is a very, very well-run business, is financially resilient and has very strong potential," Mr Henry said.
However, he cautioned there were also obstacles in its path.
"The challenge for the airport is the challenge for aviation in Ireland. We have a very imbalanced aviation sector.
"We have 87pc of traffic going through one airport and 13pc going through five airports and four of those five airports are competing for that 13pc – effectively undermining their ability to compete with the Dublin offering.
"So you have this weird situation of people driving past three airports to take flights from Dublin. This is not suitable for any state and something that must be addressed.
"It is a policy challenge and there is a real need to readdress national aviation policy to look at how we better have a competitive aviation proposition in the State."
Mr Henry strongly resisted a call from the floor that the Shannon Group chair adopt an executive role in running the airport.
"The last thing Shannon airport needs is more management,” he said. “It just needs a clear plan supported by all the stakeholders.”
Mr Henry said he has great confidence in the management team at Shannon and said there is a mistaken belief that if you throw more managers at a problem it will get solved.
"That is not how it works, it will just create more noise," he said.
Earlier, Ms Considine said Ryanair now flies to more destinations out of Shannon that it did before the pandemic.
She also pointed out that for the first time since 2010, Shannon has a daily transatlantic link to Boston and New York all year round.
Ms Considine said that through economies of scale, flights out of Dublin can be cheaper than Shannon for passengers but urged passengers to examine the total costs of travelling out of Dublin.