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*First Lady Melania Trump with Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes at Shannon Airport. Photograph: Arthur Ellis.

Rose Hynes’ one year extension as Chairperson of the Shannon Group was granted to provide continuity within the commercial semi-state company, The Clare Echo has learned.

In August, the Department of Tourism, Transport and Sport extended Ms Hynes’ tenure as Chairperson of Shannon Group by an additional year. Her five year term ended on August 28th but Minister Shane Ross opted to offer give a one year renewal. The Group is responsible for Shannon Airport, Shannon Commercial Properties, Shannon Heritage and IASC.

With the consent of Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohue, Ross under Section 17 (2) of the State Airports Act 2014 could reappoint Hynes for a second five year term.

“In making his decision to reappointment Ms. Hynes for 12 months, subject to her appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Minister was cognisant of the critical juncture the Group is currently at with for example the finalisation and subsequent rollout of its second Five Year Strategic Plan,” a spokesperson for the Department of Transport told The Clare Echo.

Matthew Thomas’ departure as CEO in June plus the additions of Stephen Rae and Ambrose Loughlin to the Board of Shannon Group earlier this year also influenced the decision according to the spokesperson. “As the Group is entering into its next stage of development, the importance of maintaining corporate memory also informed the Minster’s decision”.

Although the one year extension came as no major shock, the decision of Mr Thomas to leave his role in June after three years did cause surprise. He succeeded Neil Pakey whose three year term was not renewed which left many commentators stunned. Mary Considine for the second time is working as Acting CEO of the Group.

Last year, Shannon Group had a turnover of €77.8m, an eight percent increase on 2017 figures, profits rose by 125 percent to €21.5m. This year’s finances will be the worst since the Group was established due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and Brexit.

Occupancy rates at Shannon Commercial Properties currently stand at 94%, more than double what it was in 2013. Shannon Heritage has seen its amount of attractions increase as it expands throughout Ireland. However Shannon Airport’s story is not as promising with passenger numbers set to decline for the first time since separating from the DAA plus Norwegian have recently withdrawn services from the Airport and Ryanair just last week dropped three routes from Shannon.

Speaking in Dáil Éireann, Limerick TD, Niall Collins said the separation of Shannon from the DAA was a failure. “At the time of that decision, dissenting voices and questioning voices were rubbished by yourselves and by others but the facts speak for themselves. The market share of Dublin Airport Authority in 2011 was 78 percent, it’s now 86 percent. The market share at Shannon Airport in 2011 was 7 percent and it now stands at 4.4 percent”.

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