The development of a cargo hub at Shannon Airport – one of the key pillars of the new Shannon Group plc’s long-term plans – will be key to supporting companies across the West of Ireland and beyond in accessing major emerging markets such as China, a global aviation conference staged in Limerick today heard.
Patrick Edmond, newly appointed Managing Director of the Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Centre (IASC), said that there is real potential to develop Shannon into an international crossroads for cargo. He was speaking at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) cargo conference at the Strand Hotel in Limerick.
The conference, attended by over 350 delegates from around the world, is the first to be held by IATA in the Mid-West region since the early 1980s. IATA is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 240 airlines in over 115 countries. Carrying 84% of the world’s air traffic, IATA members include the world’s leading passenger and cargo airlines, including Aer Lingus, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways, Air Canada, and Air Transat.
Said Mr Edmond: “We are in the early stages of developing IASC, which will build on the existing cluster of 40 aviation related businesses at Shannon, and we see very strong potential within that for a cargo hub. There are many opportunities that would arise from this, through job creation in the region and business for Shannon but also the support it would provide for Irish exporters in accessing markets that are currently challenging.
“For example, there are seafood producers across the West of Ireland who have product that is much sought after in China but they cannot get that product to China quickly. A cargo hub at Shannon would be of huge benefit to these exporters and the same applies across many sectors.
“A cargo terminal is part of our long-term planning and there are a number of reasons for this, not least geographical, with Ireland ideally located as a transatlantic cargo hub not just for Europe but also for the Middle East and Asia.
“What we need to do is to give air freight a reason to come here but we cannot depend on geography alone to do that. We need to develop a compelling offering that will enhance the supply chain and we are setting about doing that. The cargo industry may already be familiar with Shannon but our intention is that they will hear a lot more from us over the coming years,” he said.
The conference was secured for the region by Clare Senator Tony Mulcahy and Brian Stapleton, Irish aviation specialist and founder of the Irish Aviation Leadership Group (IALG), with the support of Shannon Airport.
Said Senator Mulcahy: “Having this conference in the Mid-West is a great opportunity for Shannon to further develop relationships with some of the world’s leading players in the cargo industry, pretty much all of whom are represented here today. The airport has identified the development of a strong cargo offering as one of its key targets over the coming years and the gathering of decision makers and industry experts on its doorstep provides a valuable opportunity for Shannon to showcase its potential.”
The conference brought over 350 delegates Limerick, generating an estimated €200,000 plus in revenue for the city and outlying areas. Said PRO for Shannon Region of Hotel Federation Sean Lally: “The conference is, of course, a great opportunity for Shannon Airport to spread the word about its plans for cargo services. But from a local perspective, the conference has been excellent for the economy. It’s not just the 350 delegates who came in for the conference itself but many came early, some as far back as last weekend and with their families, making a short holiday out it. That has generated a lot of revenue for hotels and retail generally in the city and beyond. It has effectively booked out Limerick, with a spill-over into Bunratty and further out into Clare.
“The event has shown again the capacity for Limerick and the Mid-West to host major conferences and Shannon Airport is, of course, critical in driving this type of business to the region.”
- Business chief urges co-operation in west (irishtimes.com)
- Large passenger planes creating cargo capacity glut – IATA (business.inquirer.net)
- Private-jet fliers get VIP lounge at Shannon Airport (independent.ie)