Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton T.D. has visited Shannon Airport and the surrounding campus today.
It was an opportunity for the Minster to see first-hand the airport operations since the recommencement of international travel and the developments that have taken place on the wider airport campus.
After her meeting with Shannon Group CEO, Mary Considine, Minister of State Naughton acknowledged the impact of COVID-19 on the airport and wider aviation sector and re-iterated that the Economic Recovery Plan published by Government on 1 June, recognises that additional support may be required to support the aviation sector’s recovery as it continues to open up.
Speaking from Shannon, Minister Naughton said “During my visit today I saw first-hand strong evidence of recovery for our aviation sector, Shannon Airport and the region as a whole. Last week alone, passenger numbers were up by approximately 130% on the same period on 2020 and the airport has seen an 84% rise since the lifting of restrictions.
While these are encouraging numbers, I am aware that this is only the beginning of recovery for aviation. Government is committed to ensuring that Shannon Airport, and the Shannon region, continue to be supported in the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to work closely together so as to ensure Shannon’s deserved position on the international map for visitors. Shannon Airport is doing what it does best – safely serving the needs of the mid-west region and our national and international travellers”, said Minister of State Naughton.
During her visit Minister Naughton was also given a tour of the new Hold Baggage Screening facilities in the airport, which the Exchequer provided some €6m in funding to ensure its completion. The Minster of State also visited the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operation in the airport which was the first preclearance facility for scheduled transatlantic traffic in Europe. The Minister is hopeful that we will see a return of transatlantic flights from Shannon in the near future.
The Minister also welcomed the return of services to the Airport with a total of 72 weekly flights operating through Shannon up to the end of October. The recent announcement of a second aircraft being based in Shannon by Ryanair and the resumption of Aer Lingus services on the Shannon Heathrow route for 10 weeks initially is also welcome and a positive step in the right direction for the restoration of key routes from Shannon. The Minister commented “As the sector continues to recover the provision of these services contributes greatly to the economy of the mid- west, tourism and the wider region as we move forward.”
Mary Considine, Shannon Group CEO said that by the Minister of State visiting the airport and the campus today she demonstrated her commitment to the recovery and growth of Shannon Airport. Commenting Ms Considine said: “It was great to welcome Minister Naughton to Shannon Airport to see the progress we have made on upgrading our core infrastructure including our new Hold Baggage Screening facility which will be completed shortly.
We have used the downtime during the Pandemic to progress these essential works which would not have been possible without Government support. We also welcomed the opportunity to update the Minister on some of the exciting developments taking place on the airport campus including our ongoing work with Future Mobility Campus Ireland to develop a test-bed for driverless cars and future plans to establish Ireland’s first passenger and cargo vertiport.”