by Gordon Deegan
The chief executive of the Shannon Group has said that policy in Ireland is leading towards the country having only a single airport, in Dublin.
Addressing members of Clare County Council at their November meeting, Matthew Thomas said that the evidence was in figures that showed Dublin Airport had increased its market share from 72% in 2005 to 87% and was increasing its dominance at an incredibly fast pace.
He said that despite the growing market across the island that Shannon Airport’s share had fallen from 5.4% to 5.1% since it achieved independence from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
Nonetheless, the airport had managed to increase passenger numbers by 25%.
The Shannon Group was seeking to change the “very immature” Government policy as regards airports, he said.
The CEO said the Shannon Group had “huge investment plans”.
The group has responsibility for the Shannon Free Zone and a number of tourist attractions including Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
Mr Thomas said that the Shannon Group hopes to press ahead with building the world’s biggest airport hangar next year.
He said: “The building of hangars are central to the growth of the aviation and aerospace cluster at Shannon. Hangars are low margin and expensive. We hope to build the world’s largest one next year if the financials add up.”
He also hopes to start on a multi-million investment at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.
Mr Thomas said: “We are currently negotiating with Fáilte Ireland on this...They say that they have a limited pot of money but we are hoping to make Bunratty a top-flight attraction in Ireland.”
He said: “What we are looking at Bunratty to take it do a completely different level and we hope to make it one of the top five most visited attractions in Ireland” without tapping any Government funding.
“We are not looking for handouts from anyone,” adding that Shannon Airport needs to spend millions every year “just to stay in the game”. He said it will spend €6m on security equipment over the next number of years.