THE man credited with turning Liverpool into one of Europe’s fastest growing airports has been appointed the new chief executive of Shannon Airport Authority.
Neil Pakey was managing director of John Lennon International Airport between 2002 and 2010 and has also held senior management positions at Manchester Airport, with Peel Airports Ltd and the airlines British Caledonian and Air Seychelles.
Regaining many of the two million passengers it has lost since 2007 is the government’s key ambition for Shannon following its decision to free the airport company from the Dublin Airport Authority in January. And business leaders in the region say Mr Pakey’s track record is encouraging in this regard.
The Scot was part of a management team that saw passenger traffic at Liverpool increase from 867,000 in 1998 to 5.47 million in 2007. While numbers have declined since, almost 4.5 million passengers still used John Lennon International last year.
Rebranding Liverpool Airport, a former RAF base, after one of that city’s most famous sons was seen as a marketing masterstroke and the move has been imitated in airports elsewhere.
While the Limerick/Shannon region has nothing like the catchment of Merseyside, its target of reaching 2.5 million passengers annually by 2018 could be met with additional services from Ryanair and other low-cost carriers.
Growth at Liverpool was founded on deals Mr Pakey’s team struck with Ryanair and EasyJet.
Welcoming the appointment, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said: “Mr Pakey brings a wealth of experience in the aviation sector and an understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Shannon airport.”
“The Government set Shannon on a new strategic direction by granting it full independence from the Dublin Airport Authority almost six months ago. Mr Pakey will lead Shannon Airport as it sets out on its own path to secure financial and commercial success, now free to determine its own future.”