By Stuart Holly, Clare Echo editor
LAST month, Shannon Airport announced that it is to build on its record level of investment with the launch of a major new marketing campaign. They said that following “extensive market research, involving more than 8,000 customers” the ‘Shannon Airport – making it easy’ campaign was launched.
So, it would appear that Shannon is spending time and money on building its profile as an easy-to-use airport. Welcoming the new marketing campaign, Managing director Andrew Murphy said Shannon has introduced “new time-saving technology to reduce US pre-clearance security screening time”.
This week, less than a month after the announcement of this campaign, Norwegian Air said its daily flights from Shannon to New York Stewart International Airport will cease on January 12. The service will resume at the rate of five times per week on March 31, and the airline intends to maintain the route as a summer only service from summer 2019 onwards. Meanwhile, with Brexit looming, Fine Gael’s John Crowe called on Shannon Group plc and the Department of Transport to secure a route from Shannon to France in advance. “It is an absolute disgrace there is no flights from Shannon to France. Ten different parishes in Clare are twinned with parts of France,” he said.
Dublin – and Cork’s – dominance over Shannon has also been highlighted by passenger numbers for October, while 2017 figures show that Dublin handled 85.3 per cent of flights in Ireland, Cork catered for 6.7 per cent and Shannon looked after just 4.6 per cent.
So is Shannon Airport cashing cheques its ass can’t cash with all this talk of US preclearance and ‘making it easy’? Many people in the MidWest would argue that their lives are not being made easy at all as they’re being forced to travel to Dublin for most of their international travel.
Mr Matthew Thomas, when he was installed as CEO of Shannon Group early last year, said while there is no magic wand to increase tourist numbers, the Wild Atlantic Way could be the key to unlocking the next phase of growth at the Mid West airport. And he’s dead right – what’s been under our nose for the last few years has left us staring a gift horse in the mouth, not knowing what to do with it. But here’s an idea – rename the bloody place ‘Wild Atlantic Way Airport’! (I’m already patting myself on back). What does the word Shannon mean to American tourists, British and Germans? Very little, I would say. Wild, Atlantic and Way are the three golden words of the West of Ireland.
A rebrand becomes necessary when a business needs to change, expand, evolve and communicate a clearer vision for the future of the airport, city or country.
Choosing the right name for an airport is a tricky task. Global creative agency StartJG has worked in rebranding some of the world’s most high-profile airports, including Dubai Airports and Qatar’s Hamad International, among others. Co-founder and CEO Mike Curtis learned that much more than just “functional facilities”, airports are “statements of national pride”, a role often reflected in their name. Such is the case of Liverpool Airport, which in 2001 successfully adopted the name of Liverpool John Lennon Airport while in 2006, Belfast followed suit when its airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport.
However renaming Shannon would be no tricky task. There must be some barriers with Fáilte Ireland that won’t allow for this idea of using the Wild Atlantic Way to our distinct advantage, because otherwise why wouldn’t the board of Shannon Group jump on a gravy train that’s going to attract millions of tourists directly through their doors every year?