OVER 1.51 million passengers travelled through Shannon Airport in 2022, 88% of its pre-pandemic transit figures.
This strong recovery in the airport’s fortunes came about despite travel still being impacted in the early part of last year.
“The accelerated pace of the rebound in air travel from Shannon has exceeded our expectations and shows the pent-up desire for international travel following the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions,” said Shannon Airport Group CEO Mary Considine.
European services recovered strongly in 2022 with over 532,000 passengers travelling through Shannon.
This actually surpassed 2019 pre-pandemic levels by 7% and was a 225% increase on 2021. Shannon recorded over 638,000 passengers on its UK services in 2022, a 309% increase on the previous year.
After an absence of almost two years, transatlantic services returned in March 2022 and saw a strong rebound of almost 240,000 passengers on services to New York (JFK), Boston and Newark.
A further boost is expected from May 2023 when a new daily non-stop seasonal service to Chicago commences.
Ms Considine said that Shannon being included in the Regional Airports Programme had been significant.
“It allowed us to undertake critical safety and security projects. We are grateful to Government for including us in this programme. The work we did with these funds shows just how important it is for Shannon to remain in the programme as we rebuild in the aftermath of Covid.
She also pointed to the introduction of the new, faster, airport security screening facility, as having a positive impact in 2022.
“The new system eliminates the 100ml only rule, halving the time spent going through security screening. We have seen an increase in people from all over the country using Shannon Airport, as they now realise how easy it is,” said Ms Considine.
She expressed confidence about the coming year, saying prospects at Shannon look bright for 2023 with 35 routes in operation.
“Last year we secured four new services to Barcelona/Girona, Marseille, Malta, and a service to Paris with new airline partner, Vueling.
“We are delighted to be giving our customers more destinations to choose from, in fact we will have more routes this year than we did in 2019, with six brand new destinations.
“These six new services are to Naples, Beziers, Newcastle, Porto, Liverpool, while our transatlantic services will be enhanced with the addition of Chicago.
“These new services, combined with initiatives like Ryanair’s €10 million investment in their maintenance facility at Shannon, and the delivery of our property investment strategy across the Shannon Campus, have cemented the upward trajectory of our recovery.”
In 2022, the Group invested over €21 million across the Shannon Campus to provide property solutions for its business customers.
During the year, the sod was turned on two new developments on the campus, an €8 million multi-use industrial space spanning over 60,000 sq ft, and a €6 million R&D Technology Facility spanning over 40,000 sq ft.
In addition, the Group supported the delivery of Smart City infrastructure across the Shannon Campus by Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI).
It also completed the handover of a new building to FMCI for its full-scale development centre and test-bed for mobility technologies.
On the tourism side, the transfer of the Group’s tourism sites to Clare County Council has still not been concluded.
The sites performed strongly in 2022 with visitor numbers back to 80% of pre-pandemic levels as a result of the resumption of international travel.
Speaking about the company’s new sustainability strategy, Ms Considine said, “At the Shannon Airport Group, we know that our activities and our airport operation in particular are important to our community and stakeholders. They provide a key engine that fuels economic wellbeing for our region and beyond.
“Embedding sustainability was a key focus for the Group in 2022 and we delivered a number of programmes, from employee wellbeing and CSR to energy saving, carbon reduction and recycling initiatives.
“We are proud to have become the first WHO (world Health Organisation) designated Age Friendly airport in the world, along with Ireland West airport (Knock).
“We are committed to working with industry partners on creating a more sustainable future and last year we signed an MoU with the ESB to explore the development of a sustainable green hydrogen plant at Shannon.
“When the airport performs well, so too does the regional economy. We are committed to working with our partners to explore all opportunities to make our region a place where people will want to live, work, learn and visit.”
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.