the STATE-APPOINTED bodies charting a new future for Shannon Airport must be purged of all Dublin Airport Authority representation, Limerick Chamber president Gordon Kearney has demanded.
The presence of DAA officials on the task force for aviation business development was “a clear conflict of interest” when the intention was that an independent Shannon would ultimately be competing with the DAA, Mr Kearney said.
He also expressed concern at what he said was a lack of business experience on the steering group that will report to Government and the absence of a “clear timeline” on when recommendations will be made.
Last month, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton, announced the composition of three separate groups to oversee the break-up of Shannon Development and Shannon Airport’s progress to autonomy as a commercial state-owned enterprise.
The change management task force will be chaired by John Fitzgerald - former Dublin city manager and a native of Galbally - and is to examine the merger of the new company with parts of Shannon Development.
And the aviation business development task force led by Bord Gais chair and Limerick native Rose Hynes will flesh out the Government’s plans to make Shannon a global hub for aeronautics and aviation services.
Both will report to a steering group comprised of seven senior civil servants which will in turn make recommendations to the two ministers.
Mr Kearney wants the DAA officials off the aviation business development task force, contending that: “the DAA has been a major contributing factor to the demise of Shannon in the last number of years”.
“The DAA should not have any involvement in deciding Shannon’s future nor be privy to its business development plans. This is a clear conflict of interest and undermines Shannon’s independence. We are also concerned that the DAA continues to manage and control the airport whilst plans for independence are reviewed by the steering group. Independent interim management needs to be implemented and Shannon’s future needs to start now, not when the steering group report to Government, whenever that is,” said Mr Kearney.
The appointment of Rose Hynes and of “recognised experts in a number of aviation fields” to the business development task force was welcomed by the Chamber but the body was missing somebody with “international recognised expertise in passenger and route development on the task force”.
“Passengers and routes underpin the economics of the airport as well as being vital to Mid-West business and tourism interests and the interest of the economy as a whole. We are disappointed that Limerick Chamber’s recommendation to include international expertise in this field has not been adopted and we will continue to lobby to ensure this important area is addressed.”
Mr Kearney also welcomed the appointments “of key civil servants to the steering group but it also needs commercial expertise”.
One member of the steering group who has no shortage of business experience - including in aviation - is John Moran, secretary general at the Department of Finance.
The Mungret native spent four years working on aircraft leasing with GPA in Shannon. And on his return from a recent visit to China with Enda Kenny,
Mr Moran spoke enthusiastically to the Limerick Leader on the potential for Chinese investment in the Irish aviation services industry.