*Photograph: Arthur Ellis
A SUBSTANTIAL economic impact continues to be made by the Shannon Airport Group “but it could go further with the right support,” a co-author of an economic impact report on the entity has said.
Shannon Airport’s viewing gallery was a flurry of excitement on Friday morning as the findings of Oxford Economics’ report on the Shannon Airport Group was unveiled.
CEO of the Shannon Airport Group, Mary Considine was on hand to welcome all stakeholders which had Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Jack Chambers (FF) on hand to launch the report.
Political figures present included Clare TDs, Cathal Crowe (FF), Violet-Anne Wynne (IND), Senator Timmy Dooley (FF), Senator Martin Conway (FG), Mayor of Clare, Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) and Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) while Limerick TDs, Richard O’Donoghue (IND), Maurice Quinlivan (SF) and Kieran O’Donnell (FG) were also in attendance.
Addressing the launch, Ms Considine expressed her delight that the Shannon Airport Group “has rebounded faster than expected from the pandemic”. She said, “it is the first time in a decade that we will have record breaking passengers through the door. We expect to be in excess of 1.9m which is 25% higher than last year and 14% higher than pre-pandemic”. Five daily transatlantic flights will operate from Shannon Airport next summer, she noted.
Neil McCullough, Director of Consultancy with Oxford Economics explained that the Shannon Airport Group is a GVA multiplier of 1.54 which means that for every euro another 54 cent is given to the Irish economy and that it accounts for 6.4 percent of jobs in the West of Ireland.
On tourism, it contributes €146m to the Irish GDP and supports 1,860 jobs while on trade its estimated contribution last year was €1.36bn to the Irish economy with 10,490 jobs supported.
McCullough said, “these are really significant numbers but we think it could do better”. He continued, “Dublin captured all the net increase in Ireland passengers from 2011-2022. A growth in aviation is expected but Irish aviation policy favours Dublin”. Strong regional airports are proven to improve economic activity by six percent he said.
Shannon Airport has “really strong advocates” in the Oireachtas, Junior Minister Chambers informed the briefing. He felt the report reflected the importance of the Shannon Airport Group to the Mid-West of Ireland and noted it had the biggest multi-sector business campus outside of Dublin. He pointed out the support from Government has enabled growth at Shannon in the past three years, through financial support. “There is a huge can do attitude to drive economic activity and promote trade in the Mid-West region, the report shows how aviation can be a catalyst for growth”.
Speaking from the floor, Deputy O’Donoghue maintained that Shannon Airport has “a big part to play”. He highlighted the potential for increased growth. “Shannon has capacity for 5m passengers and with the proximity to the motorway it would save congestion in Dhblin, Shannon has a fantastic opportunity for growth, it will save congestion and have a positive environmental impact”. For the Ryder Cup in Adare Manor, he said the local economy should be supported by getting patrons to fly into Shannon.
Karen Ronan Brosnahan, General Manager of the Shannon Region Conference and Sports Bureau noted the emphasis placed on sustainability by organisers of large sporting events such as the Ryder Cup and the potential for the region to capitalise on the World Rally Champions.
Dee Ryan, CEO of Limerick Chamber said it was a “critical time” for Shannon “when we see moves by the daa to have their airport cap changed”. An update of the national aviation policy is critical, she argued.
Co-owner of Hotel Woodstock, Sean Lally stated, “we’re joined at the hip by tourism and business”. He referenced the success of the marketing campaign with Tourism Ireland promoting Shannon in the United States. Improvements to the bus network to Shannon Airport must be factored into the equation given the ease of access via bus to Dublin Airport, he said.
Growing transatlantic links were also referenced as key by Elaina Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald’s Woodlands Hotel and Spa.
IBEC’s Helen Leahy questioned Chambers on his plans to support Shannon Airport “to grow, prosper and achieve the plans of Project Ireland 2040”.
Building a product for the region has and remains a goal in hosting the Ryder Cup, Chambers responded. He said the progression of the Adare Bypass “will unlock other opportunities”. Direct support to the tune of €34m was provided to Shannon between 2020 and 2022, he told the briefing.