Shannon prepares for lift off

THERE is growing speculation that Ryanair will shortly announce a major investment in Shannon Airport in the coming months, bringing with them well over a million new passengers annually to the airport.

The company’s decision to once again make Shannon a major hub for their aircraft could bring hundreds of jobs to the airport and the region and over €100m in passenger spend in the region annually.

This will result in a tourism bonanza for the region and is seen as a vital ingredient to the survival of independent Shannon Aiport.

Ryanair drastically scaled back their Shannon flights in 2009 and currently only operate nine routes out of Shannon Airport, although not all are daily flights, some only operating on a weekly timetable.

As part of an agreement to return to Shannon the airline could base up to ten more planes at the airport, dramatically increasing Shannon’s passenger numbers.

Flights to various cities in the UK, as well as to destinations in mainland Europe are thought to be amongt the routes that will be announced. From Shannon currently Ryanair only flies to Stanstead, Gatwick and Liverpool in the UK.

Tied to this increase in passenger numbers to and from the airport, the airline is expected to avail of a much lower cost base than the model that operated up to five years ago.

Previously the DAA and the airline were in dispute over landing charges at Shannon but it is expected the new deal to bring Ryanair back to Clare will result in a much more attractive costs package for the airline, with the much needed boost in passenger numbers being the offset for Shannon.

Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has been very vocal in his criticism of the Dublin Airport Authority in recent years and their positioning on Shannon Airport. The controversial business man has always maintained that Ryanair could deliver for Shannon ‘if the deal was right’.

The announcement of Ryanair’s significant re-investment in Shannon Airport will co-incide with plans being revealed for the new look Shannon Airport Authority.

Along with Ryanair’s commitment, a major initiative will be announced to attract aircraft leasing companies back to the Shannon region.

A memorandum is being presented to Cabinet today (Tuesday) by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, officially kickstarting the process of disentangling Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority.


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