Noonan: staff ‘being looked after’ as airport looks to bright future

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Shannon Development's Dr Vincent Cunnane and Minister Richard Bruton, who has announced measures to merge the agency with Shannon Airport
“ONLY a handful” of Shannon Development staff will remain employed with the new state company the government is creating to run the affairs of Shannon Airport and surrounding industrial lands, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan expects.

“ONLY a handful” of Shannon Development staff will remain employed with the new state company the government is creating to run the affairs of Shannon Airport and surrounding industrial lands, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan expects.

Most of the staff “are being looked after by way of redeployment”, he said, while others had taken voluntary redundancy.

Draft legislation approved by cabinet this week was all about “giving legal effect to the decision taken by government last year” to free Shannon Airport from the DAA and combine it with land assets of Shannon Development next to the airport to bring aviation and other industrial investment and jobs to region.

The new company is to be known as the Shannon Group and is formed with the merger of the Shannon Airport Authority and Shannon Development, which will from now on be known as Shannon Commercial Enterprises Limited and will be tasked with managing its property portfolio. A government brief issued on Tuesday suggested around 25 Shannon Development staff will remain with the new company but Minister Noonan anticipates the final figure may be less. Another 25 staff have taken voluntary redundancy while the remainder of around 120 staff have transferred or are in the process of transferring to the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Failte Ireland and other state bodies.

Minister Noonan said he did not anticipate the two new companies forming the Shannon Group would be top-heavy with management.

“That is something that will have to be worked out by [chairman] Rose Hynes and her team but the government very much views it as a single organisation with two divisions, one focused on growing passenger numbers and the other commercial activity at the airport and the other to manage the landbank and to run the industrial development and service development integral to the airport,” the minister told the Leader.

The Shannon Group will be formally established with the anticipated passage later this year of the Shannon Aviation Services and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2013.

“This is another significant milestone in the restructuring of the state’s assets in Shannon,” said Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.

“The changes that we have already made, and the further changes that will be facilitated by this bill when enacted, will serve to drive the economy of the Shannon-Limerick area and the wider national economy.”

And Minister Bruton was equally positive on the government’s hopes for Shannon.

“By restructuring the enterprise agencies in the Shannon Free Zone we can ensure that indigenous and multinational industry already in the zone or considering locating there have access to a comprehensive range of supports. By merging a strong, independent Shannon Airport with the extensive property holdings, experience and expertise of Shannon Development, we will create a strong new state company which will work with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland on developing an International Aviation Services Centre in the region.

“I am convinced that with strong implementation we can create a world-class cluster in this region and help create the growth and jobs we need.”

It was also confirmed that Neil Pakey, recently appointed CEO of Shannon Airport, would fill the same role with the Shannon Group.