Two taskforce reports are due at the end of next month in relation to independence for the airport which is a policy position long called for by Deputy Carey. Last May, Minister Leo Varadkar & Minister Richard Bruton announced the Government intention in principle to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority. A steering group of senior officials was established from five key government departments, together with two taskforces, who were asked to carry out detailed work to make separation a reality. The aviation business development taskforce headed up by Ms. Rose Hynes was tasked with seeking out and evaluating aviation-linked business opportunities for the new Shannon entity, while the change management taskforce led by Mr. John Fitzgerald has been developing transitional arrangements for appropriate corporate, managerial and operational structures of the new Shannon.

Minister Varadkar confirmed in the Dáil that both groups are well advanced in their examination of the range of issues that must be assessed in order to arrive at the best way forward for the new entity at Shannon. Both of the Taskforces will submit their final reports by mid-November for evaluation by Minister Leo Varadkar, Minister Richard Bruton and the steering group, with a decision to be brought to Government before the end of the year including an implementation strategy for the establishment of the new entity. Minister Varadkar confirmed that he was anxious to bring this project to a conclusion as he is increasingly confident that separation will work. It’s his intention to appoint a Board and to begin the search for a chief executive officer sooner rather than later.

I very much welcome Minister Varadkar’s clarity and the fact that plans for the rebirth and reinvigoration of Shannon Airport have progressed well since May, when the initial decision in principle was announced. It’s critical that both a Board and CEO are appointed as quickly as possible. Much work has now been completed, but it’s essential that these detailed plans are brought into action at the earliest opportunity.