THE Government has this week promised a major financial injection to Shannon and Cork Airports, both of which are reeling due to the impact of Covid-19.
On Tuesday, the Department of Transport announced a revised €80 million funding package for Irish aviation. Shannon and Cork will share operational and capital funding supports of €22 million, of which Shannon will receive around €8.4 million. In a statement the department said, “In recognition of the very difficult winter season being faced by the aviation sector the government has decided to provide an extra €48 million in supports for 2021, in addition to those announced in Budget 2021.
“The Department of Transport will provide further operational and capital funding supports of €22m for Cork and Shannon Airport, which is in addition to the €10m in capital funding announced in Budget 2021.”
For years Shannon was precluded from receiving support from the State, but smaller airports such as Knock and Kerry were eligible for it. However, that has changed in recent times and the funding will be badly needed with Shannon in an extremely weak position as Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on aviation generally.
Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine was pleased with Tuesday’s news: “The announcement of financial support for Shannon Airport and the aviation sector is very welcome.
“It comes against the backdrop of the decimation suffered by the aviation sector and airports around the globe as a result of the pandemic, which has virtually grounded aviation. “This funding will support our airport operations and our aviation partners next year, as we continue to manage our way through what will be a challenging few years ahead for aviation.
“Together with the difficult cost containment measures we have had to put in place, the funding we will receive will allow us to navigate our way through this crisis.”
She praised those who have been involved in lobbying for support and said that the benefit will be felt across the West of Ireland. “It is important to say that this support will benefit not only the airport, but businesses in this region and along the western seaboard who rely on our airport’s air services for their livelihoods.
“We look forward to engaging with the Department of Transport on the details of the funding allocation for Shannon.” Clare TD Joe Carey said the funding provides an important boost for Shannon.
“I welcome the Government’s action and the provision of this vital operational capital funding. After several difficult months this – on top of the introduction of the EU ‘traffic light’ system for air travel, makes this a very positive week for Shannon.”
Fianna Fáil’s Cathal Crowe also welcomed the news, saying “Shannon Airport is far from out of the woods but this announcement is hugely welcome at a difficult time in the airport’s proud history and I look forward to seeing this money pay dividends down the line.”
Clare TD Michael McNamara said he welcomed the funding, which he says has been required for some time. “The two caveats I’d have is we need to look at the State’s aviation policy to ensure regional airports are able to compete against Dublin, which is the dominant force. That needs to be addressed in the longer term. In the shorter term, I’ll be keeping an eye on the amounts received by the airports.”
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has also announced that a study will be undertaken to look at the potential for a rail link to Shannon Airport.