No plan to cut jobs but efficiencies sought at Shannon, says airport chairman

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

MORE flexible work practices are being examined to reduce costs at Shannon Airport but here is no plan to make any of its 230 employees redundant, TDs and senators have been told.

MORE flexible work practices are being examined to reduce costs at Shannon Airport but here is no plan to make any of its 230 employees redundant, TDs and senators have been told.

Members of the Oireachtas transport committee were being briefed by Rose Hynes, chairman of the Shannon Airport Authority, on growth plans following its separation from the DAA.

“There is no intention to reduce the number of jobs; rather, the intention is to grow the pie and increase passenger numbers. The airport caters for just 1.4 million passengers but it has the capacity to cater for 4.5 million. The target is to achieve a figure of 2.5 million.

“What will be required in this regard is significant cost efficiency. We need to grow revenues and passenger numbers and have effective work practices. We will work with our staff to this end,” Ms Hynes said.

“Because of the situation in which it finds itself, Shannon Airport must look at its costs. There is not a business in Ireland that is not looking at its costs. We are already examining work practices and every area of costs. This is an imperative from our perspective.”

As the new airport company engages in an international search for a chief executive, Ms Hynes acknowledged that its business plan - including the establishment of a globally significant International Aviation Services Centre around the airport - was ambitious, it could be achieved.

“I do not apologise to anybody for having a high ambition for Shannon. The danger is not that we aim too high and miss our goal but that we aim too low and achieve it,” she said. Working as head of the Government’s aviation business development task force for Shannon, Ms Hynes had met with “over 100 stakeholders” including airlines, aircraft manufacturers and multinational companies who had showed “support” for Shannon’s ambitions if the “uncertainty” over separation was ended.

“It is important to emphasise that what my colleagues and I repeatedly heard was not romantic nostalgia for Irish coffee and thatched cottages but a measured appraisal of the global opportunities in aviation and a recognition of how Shannon Airport was well situated to grasp and benefit from these opportunities,” Ms Hynes said.

Growth in passenger traffic was key and Ms Hynes said airport management was in discussions with several airlines some of which were “at an advanced stage”.

With connectivity to mainland Europe a priority, Ms Hynes confirmed that “we are already in discussion with the German market in regard to inbound flights”.