TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is to get a first-hand briefing this week on the future of Shannon Airport post separation from the DAA.
John Fitzgerald and Rose Hynes – who chair the two taskforces established in June to plot Shannon’s new direction – have been invited to make presentations to a high-powered cabinet sub-committee in Dublin on Thursday.
Chaired by the Taoiseach, the sub-committee on economic infrastructure will be given an almost complete picture as the taskforces are on course to report by the middle of next month.
Also sitting on the sub-committee are Ministers Michael Noonan, Leo Varadkar, Richard Bruton and Brendan Howlin; Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan and others.
In Limerick this week, Minister Varadkar spoke of his growing confidence that Shannon can prosper once it gains autonomy from the DAA.
The new airport company, which will be state-owned but commercially driven, will seek to attract aviation industry on an ample landbank adjoining the airport currently owned by Shannon Development.
“The response that we have got from the aviation industry has been very, very positive,” Minister Varadkar commented.
“They are all commercial negotiations so I can’t really go into the details on them because they are confidential. What I am talking about is not privatisation of the airport at all, I am talking about investment in and around the airport, which is what going to make it sustainable in the future with a combination both of increased passenger traffic but also increased aviation business. Shannon has a lot to offer in that regard.”
Minister O’Sullivan said she looked forward to this Thursday’s briefing from the taskforce chairs.
“One of the things we had requested was that we would get a report on their progress before a final decision was made and we could have some input rather than saying yes or no to proposals that had already been finalised,” she said.
And Minister Noonan told the Leader of ongoing work to advance the separation proposals.
“There are three issues we are looking at in Shannon: first of all the appointment of a CEO; secondly, the appointment of an acting board to whom they would report; and then separation from the DAA. Progress is being made on all three.”
He expects an advertisement for a new CEO for the airport to be placed in the next couple of weeks and an appointment “relatively shortly”.