Shannon Airport is unlikely to return to 2019 passenger levels for “some years yet,” the CEO of Shannon Group has cautioned.

Newly appointed Chair of Shannon Group, Pádraig Ó Céidigh has set the target of restoring Shannon Airport back to 2019 passengers levels within his three year term while in correspondence to Clare County Council, Mary Considine has flagged that this will take some time.

In 2019, Shannon Airport had 1,710,000 passengers, a drop of eight percent on the previous year. A decade previously saw 2,794,563 passengers use Shannon in 2009. A ban on international travel for the most part of last year greatly impacted on the aviation sector, Shannon Airport was no exception with the International Airport recording 360,000 passengers in 2020.

“Our ambition is to build back stronger,” Ms Considine outlined of their plans to the local authority. “We have made a good start with some recovery in our air services. However, it will take some years yet for the airport to recover to 2019 passenger levels, we hope the local communities in the region and surrounding areas will continue to support both our existing and new services as that will be vital to our success”.

There has been “huge activity” at Shannon Airport in recent weeks, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) said as he lauded the return of Ryanair with long-term contracts which was “highly positive”. Although Aer Lingus are operating a temporary service to Heathrow, he was fearful of the implications if the route did not become permanent when runway works at Cork Airport concluded.

Improvements can still be made on the promotion of Shannon, the Newmarket-on-Fergus representative believed. “Marketing with Shannon Group is still weak, the motorway is only a mile and a half away, there’s easy parking and this needs to be promoted”.

Ryanair’s faith in Shannon was not reflected by Aer Lingus, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) felt. “It was struggling because Aer Lingus abandoned it. Aer Lingus has short memories, Shannon was good to it in 60s, 70s and 80s. Be upfront with Shannon Group, tell them your plans, are you staying or going”.

Creative thinking is needed to give Shannon a further lift, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) said. “Trojan work has been done by Mary Considine and her team to get Shannon back to level we would all like to see it”. He added, “we need to do whatever is required to make use of Shannon economically for the airlines”.

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