Shannon Airport is set to receive over €6 million in funding in a welcome boost as it prepares to reopen on a full-time basis on July 1st.
The €6.1m grant was agreed at a Cabinet meeting in Dublin earlier today and will be used to complete a project that was stalled as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Shannon Group has welcomed the announcement of the one-off government grant to complete the necessary Hold Baggage Screening capital project at Shannon Airport.
Welcoming the announcement, a spokesperson for Shannon Group said: “The €12 million Hold Baggage Screening project at Shannon Airport was halted halfway through construction due to funding constraints as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the €6.1 million Government grant to ensure its completion is very welcome.”
However, the spokesperson added: “The project completion is necessary to meet regulatory standards and to ensure business continuity for our outbound baggage systems, it will not generate any commercial return for the airport.”
Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara said: “The Government’s announcement of €6.1m in emergency funding for Shannon Airport is good news. I look forward to Shannon Group management outlining how it intends to invest the money. This funding could support the development of a new service from Shannon to a European hub.
Any funding from central Government can never compensate for a lack of a balanced aviation policy, as I have argued for repeatedly in Dáil Eireann in recent months. Shannon needs a leg-up from the next Government more than it needs a hand-out.”
“This emergency funding announcement is a drop of rain in a drought in the context of Shannon Group’s capital investment plans and its outstanding debts. For example, Shannon Group must invest in excess of €6m in its Shannon Heritage properties and fund a €9.7m baggage screening upgrade in the near future, as well as repay a €10m loan to the State for its runway upgrade,” Deputy McNamara added.
Clare Fianna Fáil TD Cathal Crowe said: “Whilst this funding allocation is welcome and will help to complete a major baggage screening project, it does not offer a magic remedy for Shannon’s current woes. We need planes back in the sky, existing routes protected and new routes procured. This can only happen with sustained exchequer support and I have continuously emphasised this to Micheál Martin and other Fianna Fáil colleagues as we prepare to enter government.”
Shannon Chamber has also welcomed the announcement.
“Having outlined in our Pre-Budget 2020 Submission to Government that under EU rules, airports with over 1 million and less than 3 million passengers are eligible for Government funding for capital expenditure to fund safety and security investment, this is a very positive outcome given that, heretofore, Shannon Airport was not getting Government funding for such capital expenditure despite being eligible for such funding and despite the fact that the Government is supporting this type of investment at privately owned airports at Kerry, Knock, Donegal and Waterford.
“This lack of Government-funded CAPEX support for Shannon Airport placed it at a disadvantage compared to other Irish airports. The upgrade of Hold Baggage Screening is mandated by regulation and the costs placed a heavy onus on the airport to deliver, which, as outlined in the Company’s statement, had to be halted due to funding restraints. Its installation however will not generate any additional revenue for the Airport,” stated Mark Nolan, Shannon Chair director and chair of the Chamber’s Transport Committee.