Transport Minister Shane Ross insists Shannon Airport 'is not downgrading'

EFFICIENCY:  SHANNON IMPLEMENTS MEASURES TO CATER FOR €44M INVESTMENT PROGRAMME

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Transport Minister Shane Ross insists Shannon Airport 'is not downgrading'

Shannon Airport saw 1.75 million passengers pass through its doors last year, up from 1.39 million in 2012 Picture: Press 22

SHANNON Airport is not downgrading but is instead operating “more efficiently”, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has insisted.

The airport announced earlier this year that it is introducing a range of cost-cutting measures which will include reducing the status of the airport from a category 9 to 7 on a flexible basis.

This will restrict the number of larger airlines transiting through the airport, and in cutting costs, will help allow for a €44 million investment programme over the next five years.

The overlay of the airport runway will also commence this summer at a cost of €15 million.

Minister Ross said that the need to evaluate business processes and practices in Shannon Airport was identified in the run-up to the separation of the airport from Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in December 2012.

“Since independence from the DAA at the end of 2012, cumulative traffic at the airport has grown by over 24%,” he highlighted.

Prior to that, passenger traffic through Shannon Airport had fallen for five straight years and the airport lost two thirds of its passengers between 2006 and 2012, said Minister Ross.

“The first priority for the independent airport was to halt that slide and then reverse it. A decline of that scale was always going to be challenging to address, but it is to the credit of both management and staff that Shannon Airport has made significant progress in achieving that.

“Last year, almost 1.75 million passengers passed through Shannon Airport compared with just 1.39 million in 2012,” he said.

In addition, since the establishment of Shannon Group, the number of globally recognised aviation and aerospace companies around the airport has increased from 40 to 50 companies, employing 2,400 people compared with 1,600 in 2012.

“SAA is conscious of the need to control its costs so that it can remain competitive and continue to attract new airline business in an increasingly competitive international marketplace,” he said.

“What is proposed is not a downgrading, but an optimal use of resources in line with best business practice, ensuring that resources are deployed more efficiently as and when they are required.

He stressed that his department has no policy or role regarding categorisation of any airport.