Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has welcomed a report by an international economic consultancy group that calls for a range of initiatives to improve Shannon Airport’s global connectivity.

Deputy Carey, who is Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Affairs, said the report by Danish consultants Copenhagen Economics found that a frequent business connection to Frankfurt Airport would create an additional €412 million for the regional economy.

“I’ve been working with Eoin Ryan, Chairman of the Limerick Chamber who commissioned the report with the support of Shannon, Ennis and Galway Chambers and I have also engaged with the Taoiseach as well as the Finance Minister and Transport Minister on this issue.

“Having worked with the Taoiseach to achieve Shannon’s independence from the Dublin Airport Authority during his term as Transport Minister, I have made it clear to him that it is essential that the Government supports this report in the interests of balanced regional development. 

“In a post-Brexit situation, it is vital that Shannon has a connection to a major European hub such as Frankfurt and this has been highlighted in the report.

“The 2015 National aviation Policy needs to be updated to reflect the importance of airports as drivers of economic growth to regions such as the West and Mid West. Such a policy review is essential in terms of achieving the objectives set out in the Project Ireland 2040 Government strategy.

“The Government should be making active use of aviation policy to achieve its ambition of balanced regional growth by allocating a larger share of the funding to market airports outside Dublin. This could also be a mechanism for securing a European hub to mitigate the negative consequences of Brexit,” Deputy Carey explained.

“Shannon Airport currently adds up to €3.6 billion to Ireland’s GDP and supports around 43,700 jobs. Around 1.7 million passengers travel through Shannon on around 13,000 flights. This implies that at peak hour capacity only 45 per cent of the capacity at the airport is utilised.

“Passenger numbers have increased by more than 460,000 since 2012, when Shannon became an independent entity, to the end of last year. In that same period, Dublin Airport increased its passenger numbers by 12.4 million. 

“Spreading just 20 per cent of that growth across the regions would still leave Dublin with 10 million additional passengers and the regions with an additional 2.5 million which would deliver a far greater economic impact.

“But there is also a responsibility on the management team at Shannon to ensure that their operational processes and infrastructure continue to be efficient. The Copenhagen Report has also indicated that the airport should explore additional revenue opportunities in the area of cargo traffic,” Deputy Carey concluded.