Work begins on €15m runway upgrading project at Shannon Airport

'Challenging and complex project' will require 100 people to complete

SHANNON Airport has announced the start of a €15m upgrading of its runway, “a challenging and complex project” that will require 100 people to complete.

The overlaying of the runway – €10m in funds for which were loaned from the State through the Irish Strategic Investment Fund – will commence immediately and will take approximately 26 weeks to complete.

Dublin-based specialist Lagan Asphalt Group, which has offices in Tulla, has been appointed by the airport to undertake the project following a tender process.

Work on the project includes the rehabilitation of the runway surface, the replacement of runway edge and centre line lighting with energy efficient LED lighting, ducting and other associated works.

The runway is the longest in Ireland at 3,199m (almost two miles) and the upgrading works are intended to ensure that Shannon continues to meet regulations governing the operation and specification of runways at major airports. 

“Our runway is the airport’s greatest asset and has been the central artery of the airport allowing it to grow passenger numbers by 24% over the past four years. We want to see this continue and this why the runway upgrade project is needed to protect this investment,” said Shannon Group CEO Matthew Thomas.

"This is a challenging and complex project with work limited to small time periods every night in order to minimise any inconvenience to our customers. The work is very weather dependent, and will involve the resurfacing of the runway," he said.

The airport’s runway, built in 1961, was last fully rehabilitated in 1983 and has under gone regular maintenance over the intervening years. A full resurfacing of 2,400m of the 3,199m runway is now required.

The works are scheduled to take place at night, five days a week - excluding Sundays and Mondays - and will not impact on any scheduled services at the airport for the duration of the project.

The upgrading works follow the recent announcement by the Shannon Group that it was introducing a range of cost-cutting measures at Shannon, which will include reducing the status of the airport and have the effect of restricting the number of larger airlines transiting through it.

The measures are to allow for a €44 million investment programme over the next five years – including the €15m runway project. To facilitate the investment programme, it is also reducing the status of the airport to category seven from category nine.

However, the Group also recently reported an increase in turnover of over 2% for 2016 after a “positive year of trading”.

Meanwhile, Shannon this week also announced the start of its summer programme with a 16% increase in capacity on its seasonal services.

Norwegian’s flights to Stewart International Airport, Orange County and Providence Green Airport, Rhode Island begin on July 1, while Lufthansa just recently launched its weekly Frankfurt service from Shannon.

SAS will also operate a twice weekly Stockholm service from August, while there are frequency increases on its Birmingham, Lanzarote and Malaga routes, in addition to the return of weekly inbound French charter flights from Paris, Nantes, Marseilles, Toulouse, and Bordeaux.

Shannon said it was “set for a bumper season across all key markets”, with 35 services in all.

“It’s all hands on deck as our 2017 summer schedule is promising to be a very busy one.  Capacity on the sun holiday routes, in particular, is up 16% this year, resulting in an additional 25,000 seats this summer,” said Andrew Murphy, Shannon Airport managing director.