A continued grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft has taken €60 million out of the Mid-West economy according to Shannon Chamber who have lamented the lack of financial support provided to Shannon Airport by the Irish Government.
Less than a fortnight ago, it was announced that the Irish Government would give almost €14 million in taxpayers money to some regional airports in the country. Minister for Transport, Shane Ross confirmed grant funding of €5.7m for Knock Airport, €2.2m for Kerry Airport, €884.912 to Donegal Airport and subject to conditions, to give €5 million of exchequer funding to Waterford Airport, a facility that has not had any commercial flights since 2016.
CEO of Shannon Chamber, Helen Downes felt it highlighted a continued lack of financial support for Shannon Airport. “If the Government is serious about its promise, in the National Planning Framework, to drive regional economies, it may be timely for them to broaden their support for airports that are vital catalysts for regional growth. Shannon Airport suffers from a lack of support around capital expenditure projects and is in the process of investing €20 million in safety and security projects from its own resources. This funding would be better invested in securing new routes and services to feed the regional economy.
“However, unlike other regional airports, who recently received Government subsidisation in the order of €14m for capital expenditure works, Shannon receives no exchequer support despite the fact that under EU rules, as an airport with less than 3 million passengers, it should be able to access such funds”.
It is yet another in a growing list of setbacks for Shannon Airport, last week Norwegian Air stated they would not be resuming transatlantic flights from Shannon or Cork this year and assess their plans for 2020. “The decision by Norwegian Airlines to reroute its transatlantic services through Dublin this year, and the associated loss of 120,000 seats for Shannon Airport is a major blow, not just for the Airport, but for the entire Mid-West, “Ms Downes stated.
“Whilst this decision has been forced on the airline through the grounding of Boeing Max 737, the associated loss of passengers for Shannon will also take up to €60 million out of the regional economy linked to reduced ancillary spend on car hire, hotels, restaurants and general spend by inbound passengers right along the Wild Atlantic Way”.
She added in a statement to The Clare Echo, “A loss of passengers at any level has to be counteracted through buy-in by all stakeholders to the existing 30 routes offered by Shannon Airport and a realisation that, without passengers, there is no airport. People grow routes, not airlines, therefore we call on everyone in the Mid-West to make a decision to ‘fly Shannon’ and promote Shannon at every possible opportunity. That is why we also fully support Shannon Airport’s call for route development support to assist them to provide vital EU hub connectivity to support the efforts of businesses in this region to diversity their markets in readiness for Brexit”.