Shannon Airport seeks to upgrade airside facilities

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Shannon Airport's airside facilities are set for a big upgrade, if Clare County Council gives the green light to the proposals.
MANAGEMENT at Shannon Airport are looking to make a number of alterations to its passenger facilities.

MANAGEMENT at Shannon Airport are looking to make a number of alterations to its passenger facilities.

According to plans submitted to An Bord Pleanala, the Shannon Airport Authority is planning to carry out a major refurbishment to its transit lounge, arrivals hall and departure gates.

The departure lounge will be refurbished, and will see a new retail unit and children’s play area.

Meanwhile, the ageing departure gate area on the ground floor of the facility will also be upgraded.

It is this area which is primarily used by budget airline Ryanair on flights bound for Britain and continental Europe.

The proposals will see this area refurbished, with the replacement of what is described as 1970s external curtain walling, and cladding.

The toilets will also be refurbished.

Meanwhile, the arrivals hall is also set for a face-lift, which will see refurbishments to the flooring, ceiling, toilets and ancillary areas.

Included in this will be a new ground-level customer entrance for passengers arriving from Europe, as well as the relocation of the Customs, Immigration and Department of Agriculture offices elsewhere in arrivals.

The plans will also see an internal reconfiguration of the customer immigration queuing system, while the existing passport check desks will be moved.

Speaking to the Leader at a Chamber event held to provide an update on the Limerick 2030 project, airport chief executive Neil Pakey said the plans will “enhance the whole customer experience”.

“At the moment, we are demolishing an old part of the airport. It is not affecting our operation, or the passenger experience at all,” he said.

Asked about job prospects if these works get the go-ahead, he said: “I think with our ongoing development projects, clearly construction workers will come and go, and we would hope this will sustain employment and create some new jobs. But there is nothing major in the short term.”

But, he promised job opportunities are coming down the line at the airport, “and there will be announcements in due course.”

“We are investing a lot, we are playing catch-up somewhat. We are a new company, which has inherited old assets, and there are brilliant opportunities there,” he added. The Shannon Airport Authority had applied to An Bord Pleanala to have this project considered Strategic Infrastructure Development, a move which would have sped up the process by removing the local planning authority from the equation.

This planning designation is reserved for big public projects like roads and seaports.

However, An Bord Pleanala said the airport would have to apply to Clare County Council in the first instance, as they feel the proposal “does not constitute strategic infrastructure development”.

One of the reasons, they said, is “no new critical infrastructure is proposed”.