Shannon Airport to suffer from Boeing 737-Max saga

Shannon Airport has warned that the grounding of Boeing's 737-Max aircraft will negatively affect its passenger numbers this year.

Matthew Thomas, chief executive of Shannon Group - the holding company for the airport, as well as Shannon Heritage, Shannon Free Zone and Shannon Commercial Properties - said the catastrophe at Boeing will make it "a challenging year" for Shannon Airport.

"At Shannon it is impacting our well-supported and successful Norwegian and Air Canada services. This will affect our passenger throughput and resultant business as we build towards what is otherwise a busy summer season," he said.

He was speaking as Shannon Group reported a 37% rise in earnings, to €12.7m, for 2018 and an 8% increase in turnover to almost €78m.

The group previously reported, in January, a 6.5% rise in passengers through Shannon Airport to 1.86 million last year; but called on greater Government financial backing to secure improved flight connectivity to major EU airports.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg sought to bolster shareholder confidence in the company in his first general meeting since two fatal crashes of the 737-Max triggered the jet’s grounding, lawsuits and investigations.

File photo of Boeing 737-Max aircraft.
File photo of Boeing 737-Max aircraft.

Battling the biggest crisis of his tenure, Mr Muilenburg said the company was making steady progress toward getting approval for new software as questions linger over the safety of its fastest-selling aeroplane.

Mr Muilenburg is Boeing’s chairman and president in addition to CEO, and faced calls to strip him of one of those titles at the meeting, but a motion to split the chairman and chief executive roles did not pass.

About 150 shareholders gathered in the auditorium of the Chicago Field Museum for the meeting.

One shareholder during the meeting asked Mr Muilenburg what Boeing was doing on safety assessments following the crashes.

The CEO said the company’s commitment to safety has not wavered.

“Safety is at the core of what we do. Every day, we try to get better,” Mr Muilenburg said.

Boeing is under pressure to deliver a software fix to prevent erroneous data triggering the MCAS anti-stall system and a new pilot training package that will convince global regulators, and the flying public, that the aircraft is safe.

Last week Boeing abandoned its 2019 financial outlook, halted share buybacks and said lowered production due to the 737-Max grounding had cost it at least $1bn so far.

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