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Cork and Shannon airports could be privatised - Varadkar

The transport minister has said the two airports are losing millions of euro every year.

Planes at Shannon Airport
Planes at Shannon Airport
Image: James Horan/Photocall Ireland

CORK AND SHANNON airports could be privatised in the near future after a new report into their viability was commissioned by transport minister Leo Varadkar.

The loss-making airports could also be leased or run under a concession arrangement under proposals to separate them from the Dublin Airport Authority. At present, both Cork and Shannon have their own boards but only limited autonomy from the DAA.

Varadkar said yesterday that there was “great merit” in separation of the airports, and that all options were under consideration. A study will be carried out by consultants Booz and Company to provide “wide ranging advice” on the airports’ future.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, the minister said that Cork is losing between €10million and €14million a year, with Shannon’s annual losses around €8million.

“In the past that was sustainable because the profits from Dublin [airport] were sufficient to cover that, and the profits from Aer Rianta,” he said, adding that that was no longer a viable arrangement.

He said “concession options, lease options [and] potential privatisation” were all under consideration.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey welcomed the initiative, saying that changes were necessary at Shannon. “For far too long Shannon Airport has been on a spiral of decline. The governance model is not working,” he said.

It was previously proposed that all three airports would be run as separate semi-State organisations. However, it’s understood this is no longer seen as an option.

The consultants are due to submit their report later this year.

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Michael Freeman

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