SHANNON has received a major boost this Thursday with the announcement that Ryanair is to add eight new routes from the airport next year.
The new routes to the UK and continental Europe, plus increased services to Stansted, will add 300,000 new seats per year, passenger growth of almost 15%, the airline confirmed. It also believes the increased services will add 300 new on-site jobs.
New routes have been announced from Shannon to Berlin, Munich, Paris, Warsaw, Krakow, Faro, Fuerteventura and Nice.
The new services represent 200,000 extra seats from Shannon in 2014, and 300,000 in a full year, according to Ryanair.
The announcement comes on foot of finance minister Michael Noonan scrapping the air travel tax and a year after Shannon was made independent.
The abolishment of the travel tax in particular sparked an immediate reaction from the airline, which said it was calling in representatives from five airports on a plan to bring an extra one million passengers per annum into the country once the tax change takes effect next April.
The travel tax was one of the reasons cited by Ryanair in slashing services out of Shannon in 2009. Where the airline once had close to two million passengers at Shannon, its 10 routes this year are expected to carry under 500,000.
This morning’s announcement will help to reverse the trend, and was welcomed broadly across the region.
Ryanair’s Michael Cawley said the “growth is in direct response to the Government’s welcome decision to scrap the €3 air travel tax from April 2014”.
“The scrapping of the air travel tax will help restore Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness to overseas visitors from the UK and Continental Europe in particular. Having met with all five of the main Irish airports, we hope to announce further new route and traffic growth plans over the coming weeks,” he added.
Shannon Airport CEO, Neil Pakey said: “We are delighted that Ryanair have shown real commitment to the Shannon Region in announcing 8 new European routes for 2014, in addition to the 10 already served from Shannon.”
“The timing of this announcement couldn’t be better for inbound visitors in particular, given the focus next year on the Wild Atlantic Way and on Limerick as the City of Culture,” he added.
Transport minister Leo Varadkar also welcomed the announcement.
“Winning this commitment from Ryanair to expand services at Shannon is important for the airport and will assist in growing traffic,” he said.
“After years of sustained contraction, it looks like Shannon Airport has finally halted the dramatic downward slide of the previous five years. The airport is predicting that this year’s outturn will be on a par with last year’s total of 1.39 million passengers, or even marginally above that. That would be a major achievement for the airport in its first year of independence from the DAA.
“Having halted the dramatic downward slide of the previous five years, this announcement by Ryanair helps the airport to reverse that trend,” he added.
For more on this story, stay with the Limerick Leader online and see next week’s print editions.
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