RYANAIR is “bang on target” to deliver an extra 300,000 passengers through Shannon this year, according to CEO Michael O’Leary.
In fact, the airline would exceed that target by around 10,000, Mr O’Leary predicted during a press conference in Shannon on Monday.
He was in Shannon to make a presentation to the 13 millionth Ryanair passenger through the airport since the airline started flying in and out of the Mid-West.
And he took the opportunity to discuss future plans with Shannon Group chairman Rose Hynes and CEO Neil Pakey. Mr O’Leary confirmed this could include routes to the UK which Stobart Air (formerly Aer Arann) is axing in the new year and amounting to around 90,000 passengers in total. The Ryanair boss pointed out that its Manchester service alone carried around 100,000 a year.
This was one of the many routes reintroduced or expanded by Ryanair at Shannon since the air travel tax was reduced to zero by Minister for Finance Michael Noonan, who was present at the press conference and was praised by Mr O’Leary for his “foresight”.
“I am proud to confirm that we are bang on target to meet our commitment this year of growing our traffic in Shannon by 300,000 passengers. That is in the first full year following the repeal of the travel tax from April 1 to March 31. In fact, we expect to carry an extra 310,000 passengers through the airport over that 12-month period which makes Shannon the fastest growing airport in Ireland once more and also means that our traffic in Shannon will grow to over 750,000 passengers this year,” Mr O’Leary said.
“Unfortunately all our aircraft for the summer schedule of 2015 are fully deployed but we are taking new aircraft from Boeing from September 15 onwards and I think there are a couple of realistic prospects that we and Shannon Airport can discuss because we want to build on this year’s momentum and we want to continue to see not just traffic growth in Shannon but also the choice and range of routes.”
Shannon’s 13 millionth passenger meanwhile said he was “shocked” to receive 13 free flights for his family. Piotr Rachuta was on his way back to Wroclaw, Poland, having visited relatives in Tralee. Mr O’Leary, in Santa Claus mode, then announced free flights to every passenger bound for Wroclaw.