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Dublin: 8°C Thursday 27 January 2022

Report recommends Shannon Airport separate from Dublin Airport Authority

A consultants’ report has recommended changes to the airport’s management structure in light of annual losses and declining passenger numbers.

Image: Photocall Ireland

A REPORT COMMISSIONED by the Department of Transport has recommended that Shannon Airport separate from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) in order to improve its growth prospects.

International consultants Booz and Company were commissioned by the Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to look at the future viability of the western airport as well as Cork airport in light of the fall in passenger numbers since 2007  and annual losses of around €8 million.

The report recommends that the airport could move to a local concession model which would see it separate from the Dublin Airport Authority and fall under a “local authority holding entity” that could consist of county councils in Clare and Limerick and possibly Shannon Development

The report also says that new sources of revenue could be found through exploitation of the 2,000 acres of land behind the airport, a greater focus on cargo and expanding its US pre-clearance facilities to include cargo.

The report was published tonight by the Department of Transport with sections of it blacked out for commercial reasons. The Department had not originally intended to publish the report but did so in response to a number of queries.

“It is clear that the status quo is not working and substantive change is needed in the way the State airports operate, especially in this difficult trading environment,” Varadkar said.

Clare County Council welcomed the report and its consideration to placing the ownership of Shannon Airport under local public agencies such as it.

“The Council welcomes the fact that Booz and Company has echoed Clare County Council’s view that the operation of Shannon Airport as an autonomous entity, as envisaged in legislation, cannot be achieved if the status quo is retained and therefore the option of retaining the status quo is not a realistic option,” Clare County Manager Tom Coughlan said.

Cork airport

The report siad that Cork airport was performing well under the ownership of DAA, citing the “marginal” benefits of separation and stated that it enjoyed a healthier financial position as well as being on course to meet previously agreed targets.

Varadkar has said that Shannon will be the first airport to have its future determined and said that he will make recommendations to cabinet on the best option for future viability of the facility by Easter.

“The future of Cork and Shannon Airports has been in limbo since 2008 when a decision was made by my predecessor, as Minister for Transport, to defer taking a decision an airport separation.  I intend to end the uncertainty about these airports this year,” he stated.

Fine Gael TD for Clare Joe Carey, who released a statement on the report prior to its publication this evening, said that unless action is taken on Shannon, the future viability of the facility is in doubt.

“Passenger numbers have halved in recent years. It’s clear that the governance and financial model in place is not working for the airport or the region,” Carey said.

“I welcome the fact that the Booz report recognises the merits in a new governance model for Shannon, with buy-in from local stakeholders. I also welcome the vision outlined in relation to industrial lands adjacent to the airport and the potential for Shannon to become a major cargo hub.”

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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