Taoiseach says Shannon Airport can exceed 3.5m annual passengers

Nick Rabbitts at Dromoland Castle

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Nick Rabbitts at Dromoland Castle

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Taoiseach says Shannon Airport can exceed 3.5m annual passengers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar addressed the Shannon Chamber over the weekend

AN Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the number of people using Shannon can match its peak rate of 3.6 million in the years to come.

Mid-way through the last decade, passenger rates hit this all time high at the airport, but they now stand at around 1.7 million annually, having recovered from lows of 1.3 million during the height of the recession.

Speaking at a Shannon Chamber business lunch held this weekend in Dromoland Castle, Mr Varadkar said: “At it's peak, Shannon had passenger numbers of three to three-and-a-half million. That's exactly what we should be aiming for in the years ahead. We need to look to two million and then go upwards from there.”

He said he is seeking ideas from business to “help Shannon to reach its potential which is so much more then where it is at present”.

Separately, the Taoiseach welcomed the opening of the N18 Gort to Tuam road, which means Limerick is linked to Galway by motorway for the first time.

“It does mean for the first time in Ireland, all roads, in terms of motorways, do not lead to Dublin. This connection between Galway and Limerick will be extended to connect with Cork when the M20 is complete,” he added.

Mr Varadkar said the Mid-West is helping to lead Ireland economically.

“But now we want to do more and better. We want to ensure the region becomes a great place to study, work and live, providing competition with Dublin, Cork and Galway as a city region. I think there are many grounds for optimism in that regard,” he concluded.

Mr Varadkar was joined at the Shannon Chamber lunch by Matthew Thomas, the chief executive of the Shannon Group, with the pair taking part in a round-table discussion alongside Paddy Purcell of Mincon.

This was chaired by the acting president of Shannon Chamber Kevin Thompstone.