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Transport Minister Varadkar commends Shannon growth during visit one-year on from separation

13 February 2014

Shannon Group announces plans to develop new hangar after reaching capacity on existing space

Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar, TD, has today said that he has been extremely encouraged by Shannon Airport’s start to life as an independent entity.

Speaking on a visit to the airport one year on from it being made an independent entity, Minister Varadkar said that the current progress for Shannon bodes well for the future.  The Minister also welcomed the announcement today by Shannon Airport that it is to embark on a programme of new hangar development after achieving full occupancy of its existing capacity. 

This follows the signing of a contract for an eight year lease by Air Contractors, a member of the ASL Aviation group, with the Shannon Group for the remaining hangar space at the airport.  This will be used by Air Contractors for line maintenance on its fleet of Boeing and ATR aircraft, including its Boeing 757 aircrafts which will be flown by Aer Lingus on the new daily Shannon-Boston service launched last week and its six times weekly JFK New York service that commences in March.

The airport currently has 50,700sq meters of space in nine hangars, all of which will be fully occupied following the signing of contracts with Air Contractors.  To meet a current request for near term additional hangar space, the board of the Shannon Group recently agreed to seek planning permission and to tender for the procurement and associated works of a fabric hangar of 4,300sq metres capable of accommodating wide-bodied aircraft.

It is anticipated the new hangar – intended to be the first of a number of new hangars developed at Shannon – will be built and open for business by the end of the year.  The Airport has already had discussions with a number of interested parties in relation to the use of this new facility.

Welcoming the overall progress at Shannon, Minister Varadkar said:  “It has been a very impressive first year for Shannon Airport and the performance has certainly validated the Government’s decision to give the airport its independence. In its first year as an independent entity it has reversed five years of successive passenger decline by recording a marginal increase in passenger numbers on 2012.

“While passenger growth was the initial priority for the airport, I also welcome the board’s progress in relation to hangar capacity and its plans to develop an additional hangar this year.  This is in keeping with the wider plans for growth at Shannon, including the development of an International Aviation Services Centre here to complement the existing cluster of 40 aviation related businesses operating in Shannon.  The development of maintenance facilities is one opportunity identified under this plan and this is a very positive first step in that space.”

The Minister said he was encouraged also by the significant strengthening of services at the airport this year.  Ryanair has eight new destinations this year – Berlin, Faro, Fuerteventura, Krakow, Munich, Nice, Paris, Poitiers and Warsaw;  Aer Lingus Regional is almost doubling capacity, including with a new Bristol service; Aer Lingus has just launched its first daily, year-round transatlantic flights since 2009 with its Boston service, will commence the six-times weekly New York service in March, a new Malaga service in April and United Airlines will increase its capacity on Chicago by 88% this year.  

“Shannon Airport has stepped up to the mark as a key economic driver for the region.  It is fair to say that recent high profile investments in this region like the Regeneron announcement for Limerick and Donald Trump’s acquisition of and planned investment in Doonbeg would not be happening were it not for Shannon Airport’s presence.  In that regard, the renewed energy and vibrancy at the airport is very welcome,” Minister Varadkar added.

Welcoming the Minister to the airport, Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes said, “We are delighted to welcome the Minister here today, all the more so given that we are able to present him with a really positive report card on the airport’s first year as an independent entity.  We have very strong momentum at Shannon, and the passenger growth, in particular, has been hugely satisfying. 

“We are also making strong early progress in relation to the wider Shannon project.  Our success in achieving full occupancy of our hangar capacity is evidence of this.  As a result, we are now embarking on a programme to develop additional hangar space.

“This is the first of a projected series of additional hangers at Shannon which is being driven by ongoing third party demand. Our priority in 2013 was to stabilise the position at the airport, stem the five year decline in passenger numbers and increase connectivity. We are in passenger growth mode now and this will continue in 2014 and we will continue to make progress in the creation of an international aviation services centre in Shannon.”

Commenting following the signing of the contract for use of the vacant hangar, Air Contractors Director of Enginering Brendan Smyth said:  “The hangar is an excellent facility that will support our new Boeing 757 services for Aer Lingus, and also our Boeing 737 and ATR services from Shannon for our customers including DHL and FedEx. 

“We have had a permanent presence in Shannon since 2004 and this move to our new hangar coupled with the trans-Atlantic operation for Aer Lingus strengthens our ties with the airport considerably”, Mr. Smyth continued. “We have grown our presence and now have about 50   engineering and flight deck positions and we are also delighted to support other maintenance and engineering facilities in the airport.

“The East Apron Hangar will play a key role in the future success of the B757 operations from Shannon as well as our summer charter passenger operations and our freight flying which is very important to business in the region.”

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