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*CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine welcomes Junior Minister Hildegarde Naughton (FG) to Shannon Airport. 

Junior Minister Hildegarde Naughton (FG) visited Shannon Airport on Monday where she held a meeting with Shannon Group CEO, Mary Considine.

Galway West TD, Naughton who is the Minister of State at the Department of Transport with special responsibility for International and Road Transport and Logistics visited the International Airport to see first-hand the airport operations since the recommencement of international travel and the developments that have taken place on the wider airport campus.

Clare’s Oireachtas members joined the Junior Minister on a tour of the €12.7m hold baggage screening facilities which were recently installed on the airside of the Airport. Some €6m in funding was provided by the Exchequer for this.

She met with Shannon Group CEO, Mary Considine and acknowledged the impact of COVID-19 on the airport and wider aviation sector and re-iterated that the Economic Recovery Plan published by Government on 1 June, recognises that additional support may be required to support the aviation sector’s recovery as it continues to open up.

“Strong evidence” of a recovery for the aviation sector and the Mid-West was evident in Shannon, the Junior Minister believed. “Last week alone, passenger numbers were up by approximately 130% on the same period on 2020 and the airport has seen an 84% rise since the lifting of restrictions. While these are encouraging numbers, I am aware that this is only the beginning of recovery for aviation”.

There is a commitment within the Government to provide further support to Shannon Airport, the former Mayor of Galway outlined. “Government is committed to ensuring that Shannon Airport, and the Shannon region, continue to be supported in the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to work closely together so as to ensure Shannon’s deserved position on the international map for visitors. Shannon Airport is doing what it does best – safely serving the needs of the mid-west region and our national and international travellers”.

Naughton also visited the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operation in the airport which was the first preclearance facility for scheduled transatlantic traffic in Europe. The Minister is hopeful that we will see a return of transatlantic flights from Shannon in the near future.

Mary Considine felt the visit of the Junior Minister demonstrated her commitment to the recovery and growth of Shannon Airport. “It was great to welcome Minister Naughton to Shannon Airport to see the progress we have made on upgrading our core infrastructure including our new Hold Baggage Screening facility which will be completed shortly. We have used the downtime during the Pandemic to progress these essential works which would not have been possible without Government support. We also welcomed the opportunity to update the Minister on some of the exciting developments taking place on the airport campus including our ongoing work with Future Mobility Campus Ireland to develop a test-bed for driverless cars and future plans to establish Ireland’s first passenger and cargo vertiport.”

New airlines can be lured to Shannon Airport for routes and bases thanks to the new baggage screening facilities, Clare TD Cathal Crowe (FF) maintained. “Firstly, in developing this new baggage screening system, Shannon becomes the first airport in the EU to have a screening system that perfectly aligns both the European and TSA screening requirements that operate in the US. This, on top of pre-clearance that already operates at Shannon, should make it far more attractive for airlines to use Shannon for a stepping stone from Europe to North America. It should also make Shannon more appealing to air traffic from further afield such as the Middle East”.

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