By Owen Ryan
SHANNON Airport ended a five year long decline in 2013, as its passenger numbers increased for the first time since 2007, official figures released this week have shown.
In all 1,400,032 passengers flew through Shannon last year, slightly more than the 1,394,781 in 2012.
While 1.4 million is still well below half the number that used Shannon during the late Celtic Tiger days of 2006 and 2007, an improvement is hugely welcome after such a long running and steep decline.
It also shows that Shannon enjoyed a largely positive first year after its separation from the Dublin Airport Authority.
The increase in passengers came despite a very rocky start to last year, as the airport’s decline continued in each month up to and including May. However, things turned around after that and the increase in passengers was most pronounced on transatlantic routes where 22% growth was achieved, largely due to new services to Chicago and Philadelphia. UK/European routes were boosted by new services to Alicante, Faro, Lanzarote and Liverpool.
Shannon finally separated from the Dublin Airport Authority on January 1 of last year and CEO Neil Pakey said the figures were excellent, given very tough conditions. “2013 was always going to be challenging, not least at the beginning of the year as we emerged from the State airports group. After a slow start in terms of passenger numbers over the first five months, trends improved considerably as the year drew on and the second half of the year was very positive. We are very confident that we will now achieve real growth as we move into 2014 and beyond.”
Shannon Airport’s decline from the highs of 2007, when over 3.6 million used it, has been very stark. Recording anything like that level of traffic again would seem impossible in the short or even medium term, but 2014 does look like being another positive year for Shannon, with a number of new and extended services beginning.
Shannon Group PLC Chairman Rose Hynes said she feels things will continue to pick up over the coming year. “The target of the independent Shannon Airport at the start of the year was to halt the decline in passenger numbers and we have achieved that. From here on we are in growth mode and have very solid platform thanks to the advances made in 2013 particularly the new routes secured that are now in place for 2014.
“We achieved our stated objectives for 2013 regarding passenger numbers and increased connectivity. This is a significant achievement and I would like to pay tribute to Neil Pakey and his team for their commitment and hard work. We are now working on many initiatives for 2014 which we hope will bring further success.”