Taoiseach Leo Vardakar has been asked to help restore the confidence and enthusiasm that brought positive results to Shannon Airport after he gave it independence from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) almost seven years ago.
The call came from Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who worked with Mr Varadkar in his previous role as Transport Minister to steer legislation through the Oireachtas that led to the creation of the Shannon Group in January 2013.
Deputy Carey, who met with the Taoiseach last week, has written to Mr Varadkar thanking him for a very constructive engagement and asking him to ensure that Transport Minister Shane Ross is fully aware of the challenges that are now confronting the Board and management team at Shannon Airport.
Deputy Carey suggested that as the appointment of a number of Board positions, including the chairperson, falls due, it presented an opportunity to make a new start.
In his letter, Deputy Carey claimed that the opportunity created by the setting up of Shannon as an independent entity has not materialised and there were many reasons for this.
“Some, such as the grounding of the Boeing Max 737, are outside Shannon’s control but some of the other setbacks certainly fall to local responsibility.
“The loss of two CEOs within two years is a major negative. For those of us who had direct dealings with both office holders, we realise all the more the vacuum that now exists. There are other concerns such as the lack of meaningful and structured engagement with key local stakeholders and failure to interface constructively with key players such as the DAA,” Deputy Carey’s letter continued.
Speaking at a Shannon Chamber of Commerce event last year, Mr Varadkar said he was “absolutely certain” that it was the right decision to give Shannon airport its independence and that his work on Shannon has given him “a personal connection” to the Midwest region.
“I am absolutely certain that it was the right decision to separate Shannon from the other airports and give it its independence. I am also certain that we are only getting started and there is so much more that can be done to develop the area.”
The Taoiseach added that the move to independence had rekindled the pioneering spirit at Shannon and that the airport should be aiming to increase its figures to 3.5 million passengers a year.
Separately, Deputy Carey responded to the recent controversy over the DAA describing Dublin Airport as the key gateway for visitors attending the 2026 Ryder Cup in Adare Manor by describing the move as being contrary to the national interest.
“The DAA also has national responsibilities and core to that is maximising the opportunity for access to this country through all our international airports. Therefore it should be working with the Shannon board and management to get the best possible results for all.
“It’s certainly not the case that the DAA should be undermining Shannon,” he declared.
CAPTION: Deputy Joe Carey (right) with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Clare Constituency Advisor Martin Lynch following their meeting in Government Buildings last week