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*Rose Hynes with Leo Varadkar (FG) at Shannon Airport. Photograph: Arthur Ellis

New Quay woman Rose Hynes has been appointed as the Chair of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) on an interim basis.

On Tuesday evening, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (GP) announced the appointment of the North Clare woman whose tenure as Chairperson of Shannon Group concluded in August 2020. The appointment was made by the Minister with the agreement of the Government.

She will act as Chair on an interim basis to help guide the IAA’s regulatory reform process. The Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which was published in November 2020, provides for significant institutional changes to how aviation is regulated in Ireland. The proposed legislation will separate the current regulatory and for-profit functions of the IAA.

It will also merge the aviation safety and security functions of the IAA with the economic and consumer protection function of the Commission for Aviation to create a “one-stop shop” aviation regulator. The legislation will also establish a new commercial State company to continue to provide commercial air navigation services in Irish airspace and at Irish airports. The legislation is said to be a priority for the Minister and the Minister for State, and it is hoped to secure enactment during 2021.

Rose was first appointed as a board member of the Shannon Airport Authority in 2013, she headed up the Aviation Business Development Task Force that led to Shannon’s separation from the daa and was establishing chairperson of Shannon Airport and later, Shannon Group when it was formally established in 2014. She also oversaw the establishment of the Shannon Group as it merged the property portfolio of the former Shannon Development, now Shannon Commercial Properties and its tourism attractions operation, Shannon Heritage.

Aside from the aviation experience, Ms Hynes has also served on the boards of Bank of Ireland, Fyffes plc, Ervia, Aer Lingus Group plc, Mincon and Concern.

Her latter years as Chairperson of Shannon Group drew criticism from local and national politicians who felt the performance of Shannon Airport particularly with relation to passenger numbers and new routes was not fulfilling its potential.

Minister Ryan is to begin a formal process under the State Board Appointment guidelines later in 2021 which will be used to recruit a permanent Chair and Board members for the newly established IAA and also a Chair and Board members for the new commercial air navigation company.

Of the appointment, Minister Ryan stated, “Rose brings a wealth of aviation knowledge and boardroom experience to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), and her strong leadership will ensure that the IAA will embrace important reforms and emerge better equipped to serve Irish aviation into the future. Irish aviation is at a low ebb because of the impact of Covid-19, but it is one of the most robust sectors of our economy, and the companies and people who make up the industry make Ireland a genuine global leader”.

He paid tribute to the Clare woman for taking on the job “at a particularly difficult time” and outlined that he was looking forward to working closely with the UCD law graduate” over the course of the next 12 months or so”.

Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics, Ms Hildegarde Naughton (FG) described Rose as “a pioneer and an outstanding leader in Irish aviation”.

As reported in The Clare Echo, former Minister for Transport Shane Ross (IND) revealed in his memoir that then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (FG) made a phonecall that encouraged him to extend the contract of Ms Hynes for a further twelve months when it was up for renewal. Ross detailed that she was a popular figure among civil servants in the Department of Transport.

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