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BUDGET 2021: Mixed reactions to Shannon Airport funding

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Mixed reactions have accompanied the announcement from the Budget 2021 that €5m will be allocated towards Shannon Airport.

BUDGET 2021 INFRASTRUCTURE

  • €10m for Cork and Shannon airports
  • An additional €44 million for Irish Water for infrastructure
  • Construction on N56 in Donegal, N4 in Sligo, N5 in Mayo, N22 and Dunkettle interchange in Cork
  • Purchase 41 additional InterCity railcar carriages and sign contract with potential for up to 600 electric carriages as part as DART+
  • €132m for National Broadband Plan
  • Additional €1bn for public transport in 2021
  • Increased deployment of electric cars across the public service

Shannon Group welcomed the capital expenditure with a spokesperson of the view that it would assist “as we navigate our way through this unprecedented global crisis which has seen our airport passenger numbers down 91% last month. I would like to thank all of our stakeholders and our local politicians who have lobbied hard on behalf of the airport. Their support has been very much appreciated.

The spokesperson continued, “This is a critical time for the aviation industry as it is faced with the worst crisis in its history. If we are to get aviation off the ground in a meaningful way then the industry will need a stimulus package to allow it to survive and ensure that vital connectivity, suspended due to COVID-19 is restored. Airports like Shannon are the lifeblood of regional economies, supporting tourism, hospitality, indigenous and FDI jobs through the air services that bring tourists to the region and allow businesses to trade globally while living locally. We would hope that the National Economic Plan due to be published in November, will provide this much needed stimulus to support the airline industry.”

Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) noted that the Budget was “the biggest investment in the history of our State”. He believed the announcement of funding for Shannon Airport would be a benefit. “This capital expenditure will throw an essential lifeline to Shannon and give the airport some much-needed breathing space and I’m glad to have been able to play a part in securing the funding. This fund acknowledges the fact that regional connectivity is a critical part of our economic prowess and Shannon and Cork Airports can’t be left to flounder.

“As well as this much-needed injection of finance, by bringing Ireland in line with the EU’s aviation policy – the ‘traffic light system’ – planes will be able to get back into the sky and this will instil a higher level of confidence amongst the public. That said, I am also a realist and I know that more supports will be required in the coming months if we are to turn around Shannon’s fortunes once and for all. I am fully committed to fighting for these supports. A priority for me will be getting the Heathrow route back up and running from Shannon,” the Meelick native stated.

According to Deputy Michael McNamara (IND) the funding for Shannon Airport is “utterly inadequate”. He stated, “Clarity is required around the exact breakdown and conditionality of this funding given that it is to be shared between two airports. Shannon Group alone is facing weekly revenue losses of €1.3m and is expecting annual revenue for 2020 to be down by 80%, and as Group CEO Mary Considine told me last week, the airport’s costs have not substantially reduced.

McNamara added, “The Government’s track record on providing money to Shannon Group doesn’t inspire confidence. We saw great fanfare around the announcement of €2.6m in funding for Shannon Heritage but it has since transpired that only €550,000 is being provided”.

Shannon Airport’s importance “cannot be understated,” Joe Carey (FG) stressed. “It is clear we must do whatever it takes to safeguard the airport and the 40,000 plus jobs it supports throughout the Mid-West and western regions”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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