EVEN as passenger numbers dropped at Shannon Airport in 2019, profits for Shannon Group went upwards.
According to its annual report, which has now been published, profit after tax for 2019 was €21.637 million, up from €20.915m in 2018. However, 2018 had seen a sum of €5.8m spent on a voluntary redundancy scheme.
Writing in the report, chairman Rose Hynes described the 2019 performance as “satisfactory”.
“This is a positive result in what was a challenging year for aviation and tourism in the regions,” she claimed.
Of Shannon’s disappointing passenger numbers, Ms Hynes wrote, “It was disappointing that after six successive years of growth at the airport, passenger numbers were down by 8% to 1.71 million in 2019, due mainly to the global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX Jet on safety grounds. However, we redoubled our efforts to secure additional services and ended the year with the announcement of three new services to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Vienna and Barcelona, though naturally the launch of these services has been postponed due to Covid-19.”
As well as the airport, Shannon Group includes a number of tourist attractions and a major property portfolio, including Shannon Free Zone.
Of these, Ms Hynes wrote, “Shannon Heritage visitor numbers continued to grow in 2019, with the company welcoming over 963,000 visitors to its portfolio of attractions during 2019, a 4% increase on the previous year.
“In 2019, we continued our ambitious investment strategy, investing a further €31m in capital projects during the year, bringing our total capital investment since the formation of the group to over €115m. This included the delivery of the first wide-body aircraft in almost 20 years, a clear commitment to growing the aviation cluster here in Shannon.”
She warned that Covid-19 will herald long-lasting changes. “The Covid-19 pandemic gripping the world will be a defining moment in our history. It will challenge our people and our economy as never before. While the full impact of this pandemic remains unknown, as the situation continues to evolve on a daily basis, it is becoming clear that the economic and financial ramifications will be felt across the globe.”
Chief executive Mary Considine said that Shannon Group will be particularly important to the region, post-crisis. “We are living through unprecedented times, where we will be defined by the actions we have taken and the leadership we have shown. Like other businesses around the globe, we have had to make difficult but necessary decisions to protect our business against the current commercial reality and to ensure the sustainability of our operations.
“Once the world comes through this crisis, which it will, Shannon Group’s role as a driving force for economic growth in our region will be more important than ever and we are committed to redoubling our efforts to support our employees, our stakeholders and our region as we manage our way through.”
Total spending on staff costs for the year came to €28.849 m, down from €35m the previous year. The average number of group employees for the year was 512, up from 499 in 2018.