The Irish Government has decided to grant Shannon Airport full independence from Dublin Airport Authority on December 31st 2012 and merge the airport with a restructured Shannon Development to form a new, publicly-owned, commercial entity in 2013, implementing the decision taken in principle last May with specific commitments for the creation of 850 jobs has been secured from two Shannon-based companies, as part of plans for an International Aviation Services Centre,these commitments depend on the separation of Shannon Airport from the DAA.

A report from the Aviation Business Development Task Force, set up by the Shannon Steering Group, also states that the Aviation Services Center ‘is conservatively projected to create and maintain 3,000-3,500 new direct jobs within five years, not including construction jobs’.

The Government decision will grant Shannon Airport the long-awaited freedom to determine its own future in the best interests of the airport itself and of the Shannon region, and merge it with a restructured Shannon Development. The new entity will include Shannon Development’s extensive land-bank and will be tasked with developing an international aviation center of excellence.

Minister Varadkar said “The decision taken today is an historic one and will free the board and management of Shannon airport, together with their employees, to bring a fresh approach to the future development of the airport. A key element of that future will be the development of an International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) in and around the airport, building on a range of aviation-related activities already undertaken in Shannon such as aircraft maintenance and leasing.

I am particularly struck by the degree of support for an independent airport across a wide spectrum of interested parties including business interests, chambers of commerce, and local authorities. Airport users, service providers, and prospective new airport customers including airlines and companies have expressed an overwhelming desire to deal directly with Shannon on a separated basis “.

Shannon Airport Director Mary Considine said “Today is a pivotal step in the process of separation.  The focus of staff and management at Shannon Airport has been on ensuring that the airport is financially and operationally ready for separation.  We will continue to build on the momentum of recent gains in passenger services whilst growing a range of commercial opportunities. This entire process is all about securing a sustainable future for all the stakeholders of the Airport and that Shannon Airport delivers on its role as a key economic driver for the West of Ireland.”

Shannon Chamber President Damian Gleeson said “Today’s announcement heralds a new era for Shannon. Autonomy gives Shannon the freedom to chart its own future, negotiate with new airlines, develop new routes, seek new foreign direct investment, encourage new indigenous subcontracting and most importantly, regenerate the pioneering spirit on which the Shannon brand was built “.

Legislation will now be drafted to establish a new, publicly-owned commercial Shannon entity comprising the airport and the restructured Shannon Development. This legislation will also make an appropriate change to the name of the Dublin Airport Authority to take account of the new ownership structures. The Government plans to have this legislation enacted by the Oireachtas by the middle of next year.

 Irish Aviation Research Institute © 5th December 2012 All Rights Reserved.