SHANNON’S inclusion in the Regional Airports Programme played a major role in the airport’s post-Covid recovery which saw passenger numbers grow by 300 per cent to 1.51 million last year.
That’s according to Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who said that Shannon’s passenger numbers are now back to 88 per cent of their 2019 pre-pandemic level with significant growth in all market sectors.
“Shannon secured more than €11 million from the Regional Airports programme and this took care of infrastructural improvements together with all eligible salary costs in the areas of safety, security and air traffic control during 2022,” Deputy Carey explained.
It was the first year Shannon became eligible for funding from the Regional Airports Programme which Deputy Carey had campaigned for as a member of the Oireachtas Transport Committee.
“It’s vital that Shannon continues to qualify for this support which will undergo a mid-term review to be completed by the end of 2023. This will consider how the programme is delivering on its objectives, primarily in the context of supporting balanced regional development.
“It’s important that Irish Aviation Policy is amended to enable Shannon to continue to access this funding. Currently airports that have less than a million passengers can avail of this vital support.
“I want to see that figure being brought up to three million passengers which is in total compliance with EU State Aid rules and would ensure Shannon continues to benefit from this revenue source for both infrastructural improvements and operational costs”.
“The review will also explore how international connectivity and services to and from the regions can be maintained and enhanced. This also has the potential to deliver significant benefits for Shannon,” he said.
The contribution made by the Regional Airports Programme to Shannon’s recovery was also outlined by Shannon Airport Group chief executive Mary Considine who said that it allowed them undertake critical safety and security projects.
“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.
“The introduction of our new airport security screening facility continued to have a positive impact in 2022, halving the time spent going through security. We have seen an increase in people from all over the country using Shannon Airport, as they now realise how easy it is,” Ms Considine said.