SHANNON Airport’s new boss Neil Pakey has showed the strength of his relationship with Michael O’Leary by revealing the Ryanair supremo texted his congratulations on the appointment.
Announced as the new chief executive officer of Shannon Airport on Tuesday last, Mr Pakey will not formally take up the position until next month but was in Shannon for the inaugural US Airways’ flight to Philadelphia on Thursday.
During his time at John Lennon International Airport in Liverpool, Mr Pakey led a team that saw traffic numbers grow from 867,000 in 1998 to 5.47 million in 2007. Ryanair and EasyJet accounted for much of this increase.
“I had a nice text message from Michael wishing me all the best and good relationships with the airlines are going to be very important for me and for all the team here, with every airline,” Mr Pakey said.
Cuts in Ryanair services have accounted for much of the passenger decline in Shannon in recent years and Mr Pakey said he wished to win back some of the low-cost traffic to the continent. But low-cost would not be the sole focus of the new management team, he added.
“There are very different and very distinct markets (in Shannon). I would like to see an increase in the low-cost traffic but look at today’s announcement. US Airways are a global brand, a global airline. That global connectivity Shannon has means it has a huge reputation, a very strong brand internationally, and we shouldn’t underestimate that,” Mr Pakey said.
He agreed there were similarities between Shannon and his former stomping ground of Liverpool.
“At Liverpool, in marketing terms we were a challenger brand. We were the airport that was challenging the big city ones and capital city ones. Here in Shannon, again, it’s a similar thing and the dependency on working with stakeholders across the community is massive. We are all in it together. There is no sense of the airport being sort of superior to anybody else or a monopoly. It’s a huge partnership for the whole region and we all have a part to play,” Mr Pakey said.
Shannon’s new CEO, a Scotsman, also expressed his satisfaction with the “dynamism” he had found on the board of the newly independent Shannon Airport Authority.