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*Photograph: Joe Buckley

SHANNON AIRPORT expects to be back to 80 percent of pre-pandemic passengers numbers by the end of this year.

Aviation was among the most impacted sectors due to COVID-19 and Shannon Airport is now aspiring to break one million passengers for 2022. Last year, 379,935 passengers flew through Shannon Airport, up on the 352,402 recorded in 2020. A total of 1,715,575 persons used Shannon in 2019 before the onset of the pandemic, this had been the lowest annual return since 2015 when the total amount was 1,714,872. For 2022, management at the Airport are hopeful the figure will at least pass 1,372,460.

Speaking at a meeting of Clare County Council this week, CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine noted the importance of Shannon Airport and the utility body to the region in an economic sense. She recalled that her last time before the local authority was in February 2020 when Aer Lingus were planning an expansion in Shannon for the first time in two decades.

With 27 services on offer for the first time since 2010, Shannon Airport has experienced a boost from the demand for people to go abroad. “We have the worst behind us, as we meet in person we’re strongly on road to recovery, we have huge work done to make us set up for recovery, there is a real air of optimism across our business. With many stop starts, we’re now confident we’re on right road to recovery. We are seeing a real pent up demand for air travel, two years of people not being able to travel, we’ve definitely felt the bounce in Shannon, many people have used Airport for first time”.

She added, “If I was to leave with any key messages, keep advocating to people in our region to use our services, that is our only way to keep them in the long-term, it is really important that they are doing well and kept viable”.

Of last year’s figures, she said they represented an 80 percent drop compared with pre-pandemic times. “We hope to get back to 75 to 80% of pre pandemic levels which is much better than what we anticipated at start of the year”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus representative, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) described the current picture at Shannon as “very positive” and “a good news story”. He welcomed the addition of a new route to Paris and referenced the importance of the use of Shannon’s ten hangars. “I know we’ve Cork and Knock, I’ve no problem with them but with a huge marketing campaign we could be the lead airport for the Wild Atlantic Way”.

 

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