Government report calls for Shannon self-rule

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

A GOVERNMENT commissioned report has suggested the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA)’s link with Shannon be severed –and the airport managed locally.

A GOVERNMENT commissioned report has suggested the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA)’s link with Shannon be severed –and the airport managed locally.

A comprehensive study by Booz and Company has recommended a local holding company takes over Shannon Airport, working as a “concession” from the DAA.

This group should include the local authorities, and Shannon Development, with income derived from the Shannon Free Zone pumped into the development of the base.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has indicated he could make a decision on the proposals as early as Easter.

With traffic halving between 2006 and 2010 at Shannon, the report says that continued control of the airport by the DAA would be “a significant threat to its viability.”

While not making any outright recommendations, the consultants - commissioned last year by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar - explored a number of possibilities to ensure growth for Shannon, which has debts of about €100m, and lost €8m last year alone.

These included full privatisation of the facility, a public private partnership, and the ‘concession’ model, which “are considered to offer the greatest opportunities for developing niche business opportunities”.

“It provides the best approach to balancing stakeholder objectives with the viable operation of the airport. Under this approach, a holding company is established with the objective of appointing an airport board and facilitating a long term operating concession,” the report states, continuing: “The composition of the local authority holding company could include both Clare and Limerick County Councils. The holding company could also include Shannon Development as part of a move to integrate the airport and nearby industrial land, as well as relevant commercial interests and national bodies.”

The report recommends Shannon seeks new sources of revenue away from passenger income, something expected when the Lynx Cargo project comes through.