SHANNON Airport is set to overtake Cork as Ryanair’s biggest passenger base in Ireland outside of Dublin.
It comes after the budget carrier announced an increase in services for the airport from next summer.
It predicted the increase will support 825 jobs in total at the Clare base.
From April 1 next, Ryanair will double the frequency of its flights to Kaunas in Lithuania, and its year round flight to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
These will rise from once a week to twice a week.
Meanwhile, there will also be increases on services between Shannon and London Gatwick which will revert to seven days a week, having operated six days during the winter period.
The service between Shannon and London Stansted airport will continue to operate twice daily, in the morning and evening.
Meanwhile, a number of ‘summer sun’ flights are set to return to the airport, with Palma, Malaga and Fuerteventura set to be connected.
A service to Memmingen, near Munich in Germany, will also return for next summer’s season, as will a twice-weekly service to Poitiers in France and a once-a-week connection to Tenerife.
The carrier will also continue its routes to Berlin, Faro, Krakow, Nice, Paris, Warsaw and Wroclaw.
This all means that Ryanair is expecting its passenger numbers in Shannon will top 825,000, an 18% year-on-year growth.
“Shannon is our biggest airport in Ireland outside Dublin. Cork would have always been bigger for us in the past than Shannon, but now Shannon next year will have 825,000 customers, an 18% growth, while Cork will have declined by 6% to 750,000 passengers,” Kenny Jacobs, the airlines chief marketing officer said.
He heaped praise on management in Shannon, which formally became independent of the Dublin Airport Authority last year
“It speaks volumes for a commercially orientated independent airport which Shannon is, and they have done a really good job of bringing inbound tourists here, and a really good job of making it attractive for people from the region to travel across Europe,” Mr Jacobs said.
However, the service to Liverpool John Lennon Airport, popular with many soccer fans, will not return next summer,
Mr Jacobs said: “We have seen a higher demand for airports connecting with Manchester. It more reflects the city of Manchester, which is on the fastest growth trajectory. It has done a really good job, and a lot of businesses are relocating to Manchester. It makes it a more popular airport in terms of passengers.”
Shannon Airport CEO Neil Pakey welcomed the increase in services, from 18 to 19 year-on-year.
“We are particularly pleased with the retention of the new routes that Ryanair added this year, not least the ones with strong inbound potential, such as from Germany and France. This is very important for the region, all the more so as awareness of the Wild Atlantic Way grows,” he said.