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Market Shannon and look to develop cargo hub, say Council

ACTIVITY has almost stopped at Shannon Airport nowadays, but Clare County Councillors want it to be primed for whenever recovery is possible.

At Monday’s meeting of the local authority Fine Gael’s John Crowe and Fianna Fáil’s Pat McMahon, both representatives of the Shannon Municipal District, put forward motions aimed at helping the airport, which is so important to the county’s economy.

Councillor Crowe proposed that with Brexit having happened “it is now the time to develop Shannon as a leading European International Cargo Hub.”

He welcomed talks between Amazon and Shannon Group and said that the tech giant’s invesmtnet could give the region “a huge boost in difficult times.”

Councillor Crowe said that a huge amount of products go from Ireland to Heathrow by truck, before being flown from there, but Shannon has important advantages like an exceptionally long runway and plenty of nearby land which can be developed for cargo facilities.

He proposed that the Council write to the Minister for Transport, the Taoiseach and Tanaiste, to try and encourage them to promote Shannon’s case as a cargo hub.

His proposal was supported by a number of other Councillors, including Alan O’Callaghan, who gave an example of an Irish based company that sends products by truck to Frankfurt, for it to be flown from there to South America.

In a written reply to the motion Director of Service Liam Conneally said, “It is my understanding that the Shannon Group are and have been actively exploring numerous options which will increase the usage of the airport facilities including discussions with the major logistical operators who arrange the movement of goods through various transport channels. As is normal Shannon Group are being supported in these initiatives by Clare County Council.”

In his motion at Monday’s meeting, Councillor McMahon asked that the Council “examine innovative methods to support the marketing of Shannon International Airport.”

He told the meeting that in his view the lack of modern marketing has been a fault of Shannon Group in recent years. The veteran Fianna Fáil councillor listed a number of well known people from Clare and Limerick including Marty Morrissey, Sharon Shannon, Maura O’Connell, Davy Fitz, Ger Loughnane and Paul O’Connell as individuals who could help with the airport’s promotion.

“An awful lot of people live nearer to Shannon than Dublin Airport but they have never been in Shannon Airport in their lives. There’s a market out there to be grabbed,” he added.

Councillor Michael Begley said that there is a major need to promote Shannon in this country, let alone abroad. “We’ve got to sell Shannon Airport to Ireland. We’re not getting the usage of the airport that we should. We’ve heard in this Council many times about the number of buses going from Ennis and Limerick to Dublin Airport. We need to sell Shannon Airport to Ireland as a starter.”

In a report in reply to the motion, Mr Conneally stated, “It is well documented that Shannon Airport, and the aviation sector generally, has encountered unprecedented economic adverse impact from the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic

“Clare County Council continues to work closely with the Shannon Group at many levels in supporting and assisting them overcome the challenges encountered. Clare County Council is committed to supporting Shannon International Airport in its various marketing objectives which understandably will need to be aligned with the resumption of international travel. It is proposed to engage with the Marketing team of Shannon International Airport in the coming weeks to discuss their planned marketing activities and how these can be supported by Clare County Council.”

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.