Shannon Airport should be prioritised for the awarding of Fifth Freedom of The Air rights as it would assist in redressing the economic imbalance between Dublin and the remainder of the country.
The internationally recognised privilege refers to the right of a carrier based in one country picking up passengers in another country and flying them on to a third country.
This is one of the main conclusions in a new paper prepared on behalf of the Shannon Airport Marketing Consultative Committee (SAMCC) by Professor Jim Deegan, Head of the Department of Economics and Director, National Centre for Tourism Policy Studies at the University of Limerick.
The Government established the SAMCC in 1995 to act as a forum in which all aspects of the airport’s development and promotion could be discussed and analysed by its members, which include the Mid-West Regional Authority, Local Authorities, and regional tourism interests such as hoteliers and travel agents.
The paper coincides with the publication by Government of the draft National Aviation Policy for Ireland, which aims to develop new routes and services into Ireland. Presently subject to a consultation process, the strategy is expected to be launched later this year.
“The SAMCC’s Ideas Paper complements the vision set out for the airport in the draft National Aviation Policy for Ireland and is also highly supportive of the recommendations of the first Report of the Aviation Business Development Task Force,” explained Professor Deegan.
He added: “Both reports suggest that the development on an International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) and other related activities such as a Centre of Excellence for Business Aviation at Shannon are meritorious and deserve Government support. The development of an IASC, which will be facilitated by the establishment of the Shannon Group and supported by the Department of Transport, will incorporate a vibrant and growing cluster of diverse international, primarily aviation-related businesses built around the airfield and surrounding lands, providing skilled employment as well as training and education opportunities.”
“The SAMCC’s Ideas Paper also encourages the relevant stakeholders to maximise the potential benefits that can be accrued from the availability of US Preclearance at Shannon Airport. The Department’s objective, as set out in the draft National Aviation, is that all US bound flights from Shannon and Dublin will be precleared and will promote the development of these airports as preclearance centres. Meanwhile, the Ideas Paper indicates that the increased passenger and cargo numbers at Shannon Airport have the potential to bring economic benefits to the wider region,” stated Professor Deegan.
Commenting on the background to the SAMCC’s Ideas Paper, Frank Prendergast, SAMCC Chairperson said: “Shannon Airport has been a beacon for regional development and innovation before and needs to be so, once again. Buoyed by the significant progress made by the new airport management structure over the past year, the airport must continue to focus on and develop its own unique selling points and particular focus must be placed on how every opportunity must be taken to improve the experience of those using the facility.”
According to Anthony Coleman, Director of the Mid West Regional Authority, which provides the Secretariat of the SAMACC: “It is the objective of the Committee to ensure that all key interests in the Western Regions, together with Government, should work in a positive and very determined manner to ensure Shannon Airport becomes a bigger part of the answer to more balanced economic development. In developing this Ideas Paper on our behalf, Professor Deegan has assessed what improvements can be delivered in the marketing of Shannon Airport, but more importantly what initiatives and actions can be undertaken to ensure Shannon Airport thrives in the years ahead.”
Members of the SAMCC this week presented the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport with the Shannon Airport Ideas Paper as a formal submission in response to the draft National Aviation Policy.