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Airport moving towards profitability, says DAA chief

DUBLIN Airport Authority chairman David Dilger attended Shannon Chamber’s spring lunch last week.
While Mr Dilger was somewhat upstaged by the arrival of Michael O’Leary, who appeared in the lobby beforehand, he had a number of comments to make about the DAA’s relationship with Shannon.
“The DAA and its predecessor, Aer Rianta, has invested €160 million in Shannon over the past 15 years and continues to support the current losses at the airport and also the capital investment required on an annual basis,” Mr Dilger said.
He said Shannon is moving towards profitability. “Shannon Airport provides a vital service to the region by creating connectivity that is essential for both industry and tourism. However, in order for that connectivity to be sustainable, Shannon Airport has to not only cover its costs but also make a profit to allow for the necessary investments and upgrades that the airport requires.
“The future of Shannon is to be an efficient and flexible airport operator with a sustainable route network, as this will stem the losses at the airport. Shannon will continue to focus on reducing its cost base but we must be paid a realistic price for our services. Shannon was on a firmer financial footing last year, despite the reduction in traffic levels, as its airline customers paid a more sustainable price for the services that they used.”
The importance of Shannon to the regional economy was highlighted by Shannon Development’s research and planning manager David Hogan. “Shannon International is not just supporting the Shannon Region economy, it is defining it. The airport provides critical business and tourism connectivity for the region. Tourism is one of the key economic drivers in the Shannon Region economy employing over 25,000 people in 1,000 companies and attracting two million visitors annually and there is a definite correlation between access availability and tourism performance. Tourism is a key national indigenous industry that can lead recovery over the next five years. For its part, Shannon Development will continue to build on its close working relationship with Shannon Airport to harness the value an international airport brings to our Shannon Free Zone and tourism client base.”
IDA Mid-West regional manager, Seán Denvir, said access is crucial to industry. “Access, both physical and electronic, is key, as the businesses we compete for become increasingly more sophisticated. Shannon needs both access out and access in; global remits mean more travel and the more sophisticated activities such as research and development need more face time. We have to show that we are not remote. Shannon is a spoke, not a hub, and the key requirement is connectivity to the right place at the right time.
“Our vision is for Shannon to have a state-of-the-art cargo facility, with cold chain temperature control and full freight customs pre-clearance to the US , at the heart of the supply chain for Ireland’s life science’s sector. The companies are here; the logistics and supply chain expertise is here and passenger customs and border protection is here. The freight equivalent may be challenging but it’s not impossible. It would be another first for Shannon and a potential silver bullet for the region.”
The airport will be supported by Clare County Council, according to director of services Ger Dollard.
“In recently adopting its County Development Plan for the period 2011-17, Clare County Council has prioritised the development of Shannon Airport and included a number of objectives to be pursued over the period of the plan including an international air freight cargo hub and the development of a global logistics centre for humanitarian aid. We look forward to working with all parties in actively pursuing the achievement of these objectives,” Mr Dollard said.

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