RYANAIR remains committed to a vibrant future at Shannon Airport as it celebrates thirty five years of flying out of the International Airport.

July 1987 saw Ryanair operate its first flight out of Shannon Airport to Luton. This summer, the airline had 22 routes from Shannon with 57 weekly frequencies to nine different countries in what was its largest schedule for some time.

No official celebrations are planned to mark the milestone with Ryanair set to announce their summer schedule for 2023 in November. Jade Kirwan, Ryanair’s Head of Communications told The Clare Echo, “there will be some fireworks with that,” of the upcoming announcement. “It is a proper phenomenal milestone”.

“It’s all to be revealed and to be confirmed,” Jade said when asked if Ryanair would be expanding its offering for next year. Negotiations are ongoing within Ryanair’s commercial team to ascertain whether demand would lead to potential new routes being a success.

She said Ryanair’s decision to maintain 19 routes from Shannon for its winter schedule this year “is testament to the demand” experience.

Corfu and Malta are among the new routes from Shannon. The trend this year has seen a demand for sun holidays. “This year, the leisure routes like Malta and the classic favourites like Malaga, Lanzarote, Tenerife, they’ve been outshining the rest of the schedule altogether, because they’ve been doing so well, some of them have been carried forward into our winter schedule”.

In May, Ryanair opened its first aircraft heavy maintenance facility in Ireland at Shannon Airport in a €10m investment which is to create 200 high-skilled jobs, this is support the growth of the airline’s fleet to 600 aircraft by 2026.

According to Ms Kirwan, the investment is “a real key indicator” of Ryanair’s commitment to Shannon. She stated that 880 people “in totality” are employed by the airline in Shannon as a result. “We are seeing a lot of demand for travel through Shannon. What we can deliver in connectivity and inbound tourism to the locality is fundamental of that. Opening the maintenance facility was one of the proud moments in the history of our relationship with Shannon”.

Ex Commercial Director of Ryanair, Conal Henry is now the Chairman of Shannon Group. His new role hasn’t altered relations between Shannon Airport and the airline, according to the Head of Communications. “We’ve had a 35 year relationship anyway which has been predominantly positive, we had our first flight in 1987 and our base opened in 2005. We are working well together”.

Introduction of a new security system at Shannon Airport last October at a cost of €2.5m has halved the time spent by passengers going through security screening while in March of this year, Shannon lifted the 100ml restrictions for outbound passengers. Initiatives like this have been recognised by airlines during a difficult time for some of Europe’s busiest airports.

“Across Europe there has been various struggles at airports with staff shortages, we saw it in Dublin but they’ve made significant improvements in recent weeks, they’ve revised their guidance on arrivals to airports. It was Easter Bank Holiday weekend when things began to hit the fan, people were waiting and it was unacceptable wait times, although it happened in Dublin and other Airports, we didn’t see it in the likes of Cork and Shannon. The regional airports were more adequately staffed. Shannon also introduced a new security system so you no longer need to worry about bringing 100ml on board, they brought in technology which means you don’t need that hurdle, particularly as a woman I don’t need to worry about what’s in my make-up bags. That investment has paid off, it has doubled the people through in the same space of time now”.

When customers get a positive experience like at Shannon, it does influence airlines when it comes to decision making on new routes and further investment, Jade acknowledged.

However in the midst of chaos at Dublin Airport where hundreds of passengers missed flights, Ryanair did not contemplate pulling routes from there and running them from Shannon instead. “These things are temporary and were waning, there was frustrations. It was impacting on ourselves, we weren’t having cancellations but it causing frustration to our customers and things we want to avoid. Pulling out wouldn’t have been our answer to it, we want to maintain operations at all airports. We are trying to find solutions around these things.

Speaking on the BBC recently, Group CEO of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary commented that the era of €10 flights was over. Although low cost airfare has been their “bread and butter”, prices are set to increase, Jade told The Clare Echo, “Michael’s comments were pertaining to the sustainability of €10 ticket and the fact it is not sustainable anymore”. She added, “Prices won’t become extortionate, we are still low cost but it will not be the same bargain bucket”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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