Airports must be seen as catalysts for regional developmentā€¦ Shannon Chamber


ā€œIf the Government is serious about its promise, in the National Planning Framework, to drive regional economies, it may be timely for them to broaden their support for airports that are vital catalysts for regional growth,ā€ says Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes.


ā€œShannon Airport suffers from a lack of support around capital expenditure projects and is in the process of investing ā‚¬20 million in safety and security projects from its own resources. This funding would be better invested in securing new routes and services to feed the regional economy.


ā€œHowever, unlike other regional airports, who recently received Government subsidisation in the order of ā‚¬14m for capital expenditure works, Shannon receives no exchequer support despite the fact that under EU rules, as an airport with less than 3 million passengers, it should be able to access such funds,ā€ says Ms Downes.


Commenting on the loss of passengers through Norwegian Airlinesā€™ decision to use Dublin Airport, Ms Downes adds: ā€œThe decision by Norwegian Airlines to reroute its transatlantic services through Dublin this year, and the associated loss of 120,000 seats for Shannon Airport is a major blow, not just for the Airport, but for the entire Mid-West.


ā€œWhilst this decision has been forced on the airline through the grounding of Boeing Max 737, the associated loss of passengers for Shannon will also take up to ā‚¬60 million out of the regional economy linked to reduced ancillary spend on car hire, hotels, restaurants and general spend by inbound passengers right along the Wild Atlantic Way.


ā€œA loss of passengers at any level has to be counteracted through buy-in by all stakeholders to the existing 30 routes offered by Shannon Airport and a realisation that, without passengers, there is no airport. People grow routes, not airlines, therefore we call on everyone in the Mid-West to make a decision to ā€˜fly Shannonā€™ and promote Shannon at every possible opportunity.


ā€œThat is why we also fully support Shannon Airportā€™s call for route development support to assist them to provide vital EU hub connectivity to support the efforts of businesses in this region to diversity their markets in readiness for Brexit,ā€ adds Ms Downes.