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Westpark boost as AerCap open new offices


FORMER Minister for Defence Tony Killeen was in Shannon last Friday evening to officially open AerCap’s new offices at Westpark.
AerCap is a global aviation company and it employs more than 50 people at Shannon.
In an upbeat speech, Mr Killeen paid tribute to the vision of Brian O’Connell in relation to the development of Westpark.
“On the very first occasion Brian O’Connell brought me up here to visit a field where there were 17 cattle, we went in a jeep because there was no road. He took out a set of plans and on the plans there were seven buildings, which I thought quite frankly would never be seen by anyone. Today, there are four and a half constructed and they were constructed in accordance with Brian’s vision and his vision now extends to his role as chairman of the board of the airport,” Mr Killeen said.
He said Shannon still has a very strong portfolio of companies, many of whom were represented at the opening. “I look around and I see senior executives from several of the companies that work in and around the airport. I must say that despite the fact that political times are turbulent and economic times are difficult, it’s hugely encouraging to see all of you people here on the day that these offices officially open.”
Mr Killeen said Shannon still has a lot of advantages. “We can look at some of the great successes, in particular, the success of the exporting sector and the success of the services sector. Specifically, today we think about the aviation sector, which hasn’t faced as difficult an economic climate but here in Shannon, around this airport, a cluster of industries has built up, which in the case of aircraft is at the very top of the league in its own area of expertise.”
He spoke shortly after Brian Cowen’s attempt to appoint a raft of new ministers proved unsuccessful and said the political turmoil shouldn’t be a cause of serious concern.
“Notwithstanding the difficulties and the international downturn, if there were people in despair at the political developments in recent days, I’ve been at it so long that I tend to take less notice because I’ve seen so many flurries and flusters over the past 18 and a half years.
One thing I’ve learned is that it blows over after a day or two again, people take control again and common sense breaks out,” the outgoing minister said.
“That’s more challenging on the edge of a general election. Nevertheless, if people have had the impression of chaos, I think you can be assured that it will pass very quickly and it will be back to normal business. That is very challenging business but notwithstanding that we do have our financial situation guaranteed for the next 10 years or so, not in the preferred means because it does involve investment by the European institutions and the IMF and that was a very difficult step. But in the turbulent market that we operate in, it is widely accepted that we have no option but to do that and it has the enormous benefit of letting us get our house in order,” he added.
AerCap CEO Tom Kelly said the global aviation sector is quickly recovering, something that is very positive for the company. “I suppose when you talk about the downturn, the beauty of this business is that it’s worldwide. Things mightn’t be great in Europe but the economy is very strong in Asia, the US, from an airline perspective, has done well in the downturn. The industry has been very resilient and if you look at the public traffic numbers, you’ll see that airline traffic worldwide is at the level it was at before the downturn. People are back flying which is great for our customers and great for us,” he said.
He added that there has been a major increase in numbers employed. “We have 54 employees. We had nine in 2003 and when I joined at the beginning of ’08, we had around 40. There has been a lot of growth and these are high-end jobs. We have a lot of finance people, we have sales and marketing people, aircraft engineering people, contract management, insurance, treasury. It’s a real broad spectrum,” he said.
Clare county manager Tom Coughlan attended the opening and said the county council is determined to support industry. “It’s very good news for Clare and of course Clare County Council is delighted with any development in terms of enterprise and particularly in terms of aviation, around the airport. The local authority will continue to work with the agencies, and people in the private sector to make sure that the county is as successful as possible,” he concluded.

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