Shannon Airport is to share €22m in funding with Cork Airport as part of a revised €80m funding package announced by the Department of Transport on Tuesday in a move Clare politicians have lauded as “a lifeline”.
Under the Regional State Airports Programme, Shannon and Cork Airports will receive an extra €22.1m, consisting of €15 million in current funding and a further €6.5 million in capital funding for 2021. This is on top of the €10 million in supports for the two airports announced in the Budget.
Meanwhile, Shannon, Dublin, Cork, Knock, Kerry and Donegal airports will also benefit from a further €20 million under the Airport Charges Rebate Scheme. It has also been decided that a study will be undertaken to assess the potential for a rail link from Shannon Airport and Shannon Town to the Ennis to Limerick rail line.
Revisions to the previously allocated figures is due to a very difficult winter season being faced by the aviation sector. An extra €48m in supports will be provided by the Government, in addition to those announced in the Budget.
CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine explained that the funding would support airport operation and aviation partners in 2021 in what will be another difficult year for aviation. “Together with the difficult cost containment measures we have had to put in place, the funding we will receive will allow us to navigate our way through this crisis”.
Considine paid tribute to Minister Ryan and Hildegarde Naughton (FG) and employees at Shannon Airport for their support. “It is important to say that this support will benefit not only the airport, but businesses in this region and along the western seaboard who rely on our airport’s air services for their livelihoods. We look forward to engaging with the Department of Transport on the details of the funding allocation for Shannon”.
Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) has praised the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan (GP) for providing regionally balanced funding which recognises “the emergency” facing the aviation sector. “It is good to see Shannon receive some supports, people had worried it had been forgotten about”. She said the funding is a step in the right direction, “My hope is Shannon will come back stronger than ever, we will say thank you but we won’t say that is enough and keep asking for more”.
Deputy Joe Carey (FG) described the allocation of funding as “a lifeline” and a move towards restoring connectivity to Shannon and the region. “After several difficult months this, on top of the introduction of the EU ‘traffic light’ system for air travel, makes this a very positive week for Shannon”.
Minister Ryan has agreed with the viewpoint put forward by Senator Garvey that a re-balancing of transatlantic flights into Ireland towards Shannon would result in three percent less carbon emissions per flight.
Examining the feasibility of a rail link from Shannon was welcomed by the Inagh woman. “It is really positive, they would not be doing that if they were not considering Shannon seriously”. Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) believed it this materialised, “the potential for Shannon would skyrocket”.
Additional funding has been labelled by Crowe as “hugely significant”. He stated, “This allocation comes on top of the €5m capital funding already announced in the Budget, to give the airport a much-needed leg up at a time when it continues to haemorrhage money. This year has been incredibly difficult for many reasons, not least how we have had to watch as our proud and strong aviation sector has been decimated, so this is more than a lifeline now, it’s an absolute necessity”.
The development marks a “welcome support package” according to Senator Martin Conway (FG) as he pinpointed the €3.25m capital fund, €7.8m worth of current funding and airport charges rebate.
Emergency funding for Shannon Airport was previously announced by the Irish Government in June.
Announcement of the funding comes on the eve of a private members motion from Independent TDs including Deputy Michael McNamara (IND) over the crisis facing the aviation industry in Ireland . He welcomed the funding but flagged “previous allocations didn’t live up to their billing, hopefully this one will”. He reiterated his call for a State Aviation policy to give regional airports “a fair fighting chance” against a dominant Dublin Airport.