The first meeting between airport management and the newly formed all-party Shannon Airport Oireachtas Group has been described as ‘positive’.
Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine said: “With Shannon Airport passenger traffic expected to be down circa 70% this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were pleased to have had the opportunity to meet with and brief the Oireachtas members who have pledged to do all they can to support Shannon Airport in these unprecedented times. This crisis is having a catastrophic impact on international aviation and our business, and the support pledged by the Oireachtas members is very welcome.
“Shannon Airport is a vital national strategic interest, that plays an essential part in bringing business people, tourists and cargo to the region. The ability of this region to rebuild in the aftermath of this pandemic is reliant on having a strong airport.
“With industry leaders predicting that air services will take at least three years to return to 2019 levels, the recovery will be slow. The scale of the challenges ahead cannot be underestimated. We now need a strong Government support package to kick-start our recovery. With these, and the support and encouragement we are already seeing from stakeholders right across the region, I am confident we will whether the storm,” said Ms. Considine.
Commenting after the meeting Rose Hynes, Chairman, Shannon Group said: “The greatest current impediment in Ireland to the resumption of air travel is the 14-day Quarantine for inbound travellers, combined with the recommendation against non-essential travel. This urgently needs to be lifted.”
On the new Aviation Recovery Task Force being established this week by Minister Ross and his commitment to have Shannon Group represented on it, Ms Hynes called for an acceleration of its work. She said: “The Aviation Task Force is being established this week to report in four weeks. That’s just too late. It needs to be accelerated. The industry is on its knees in crisis and we need urgent action.”
Highlighting the need for renewed focus on balance regional development Ms Hynes said: “The monumental economic and social fall-out from the virus has shown the critical importance of delivering balanced regional development. There is now an urgent need to accelerate and immediately implement the Government’s Ireland 2040 plans to deliver balanced regional growth in regions outside of Dublin.
“If we have learnt anything from this crisis, it is that we need strong regions to avoid over reliance on the east coast and an over concentration of industry and population in one part of the country.”