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Samuel Ahmed, Shannon meets Santa on board a special flight from Shannon. Photograph by Sean Curtin

Santa flying high at Shannon

A very merry Christmas, with an anticipated 15% increase in passenger numbers from 12 months ago, kicked off at Shannon Airport at the weekend, as 2,000 children and parents got to meet Santa in the skies.

In an initiative to thank the public for its support over what has been a year of strong growth, as well as raise some much needed funds for two local charities, Shannon Airport, in partnership with Ryanair, made Christmas come early for the excited children as 12 flights took the skies over Saturday and Sunday.

Among those getting to savour this special moment were special needs children from the Clare Crusaders Clinic, St Gabriel’s School in Limerick and Mirmear Autism Unit in Tipperary. Demand for the ‘free flights’, the booking fee for which goes to charity, was so high that they booked out in all of 12 minutes, when they went up for grabs two weeks ago.

The airport is readying itself for its busiest festive season since 2009, as 51,000 passengers are expected to fly to and from Shannon from next Friday until early January.

Shannon Airport CEO, Neil Pakey, “We’ve had a fantastic start to our Christmas period, with thousands of happy children and parents. It was great to see children from right across the country, including Clare, enjoying the treat. Santa has proved to be an even bigger draw when he can be met 15,000ft above sea level. The excitement was unbelievable and we’re delighted to have partnered with Ryanair on what was a really special occasion.”

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