SENATOR Tony Mulcahy has said the construction of new hangar facilities in Shannon could begin as early as next year, as part of efforts to attract aviation businesses.
He said he received details from the Department of Finance of a seven-year government-backed accelerated capital allowance scheme, which will promote the construction of certain aviation-specific facilities at Shannon.
“It is abundantly clear from a report prepared by the management of Shannon Airport and assessed by KPMG, that the viability of Shannon Airport and the surrounding businesses cannot be justified through passenger growth alone,” he said.
“By introducing a capital allowance scheme, the Government is underlining its commitment to marketing Shannon as a one-stop-shop for all airline needs, including use of hangars to house aircraft and pilot-training but primarily for the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector.
“It is clear that Shannon is well positioned to develop as an aviation services centre, considering the availability of zoned development lands, established expertise, geographical location on the western edge of Europe, availability of highly qualified graduates, flexible workforce, time zone and language.
“Currently, the Shannon Free Zone, which includes the airport, employs approximately 7,000 individuals. There are 40 aviation companies there, employing 1,600 people.
“It is critically important for the future viability of Shannon Airport and the surrounding area that given the global nature of the aviation business and the reality that companies can relocate to numerous other aviation centres that every effort be made to protect existing employment levels at anchor companies, as well as attract new aviation business.
“I believe the promotion of Shannon as an International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) will allow this to happen.”
Having hangars available is what is most important, he concluded.
“The first and main requirement at Shannon is new hangar space. The Department of Finance has informed me that three hangars are urgently needed and that there are potential tenants already lined up for another three.
“Under the plans announced by the Government, it is proposed that the soon to be created Shannon entity will rent the hangars at commercial rates either to airlines or MRO companies, most of which are SMEs. I believe that the impending creation of the new entity and the planned use of existing and newly constructed hangars and ancillary facilities presents significant job creation potential in the sector.”