LEGISLATION setting up the Shannon Group and the drive to make Shannon an international cluster for aviation industry could be enacted before the Dail breaks up for the summer, according to the Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.
The cabinet has approved the State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill and the legislation is currently at the printers before its introduction in the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.
The bill gives legal effect to the government’s decision to set up a new commercial state company - the Shannon Group plc - which will be parent company to the newly autonomous Shannon Airport Authority and Shannon Commercial Enterprises, which will manage the property portfolio at the Shannon Free Zone and around the airport which until now has been in the ownership of Shannon Development.
The legislation had initially been expected at the beginning of this year and its delay had led to some concern in the region that the establishment of the International Aviation Services Centre was losing impetus.
Passage of the bill, Minister Varadkar said, would bring that ambition closer to realisation.
“The publication of this bill marks a further milestone in the restructuring of the state’s assets in Shannon. Aviation is hugely important to the Mid-West, and Shannon Group will aim to further develop aviation-related activities and services in and around the airport as set out in the Shannon Aviation Business Development Task Force report,” he said.
Once enacted, the bill allows for the formal establishment of the Shannon Group plc, the appointment of its board and the transfer of the Shannon Airport Authority and the Shannon Development legacy company under the ownership of the group.
Deputy Kieran O’Donnell described cabinet approval of the bill as “a very significant development for Limerick and the Mid-West”.
“I expect the legislation to be published next week and to be passed through both the Dail and Seanad before the end of July,” stated the Limerick City Fine Gael TD.
“At that point, full legal effect will have been given to the Shannon Group structure and its status will be beyond question. We are entering the final chapter of the single largest restructuring of the state’s assets in Shannon since the foundation of Shannon Development in 1959.
“Since the government granted Shannon Airport its independence, passenger numbers and investment in Shannon have increased dramatically. I am confident that this will continue and that the legal status of the Shannon Group will lay the foundations for the renewal of Shannon as an engine of job creation here.”