That is the view of the chairman of the Mid-west Regional Authority, Cllr Joe Leddin (Lab), who was speaking at a special meeting on the future of Shannon yesterday.
At the airport’s Park Inn hotel, Mr Leddin said: “If the new structure can start off debt free then I believe there is a bright future for Shannon Airport and we can, through creating a centre of excellence based on aviation activities, create thousands of jobs for the mid-west in the years ahead.”
Members of the regional authority unanimously agreed their submission to Leo Varadkar, the transport minister, calling for an independent, debt-free Shannon that will remain in public ownership with councillors to the new board.
A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said yesterday he will make an announcement on the future of Shannon in the near future.
At yesterday’s meeting, Cllr Diarmuid Scully (FG) said Aer Rianta International, established at Shannon, has created millions of euro for the Dublin Airport Authority.
“ARI was created here in Shannon, subsumed into the DAA, and Shannon should be given full credit for its role in the creation of that company in terms of the debt being written off.”
Mr Scally said: “Independence with debt won’t work and that has to be front and centre of any submission we make. Local representatives from the region should also be on the board so that we can have some say in how the airport is run.”
Mr Leddin said the airport is at a crossroads, but that there are opportunities, including a 2,000-acre land bank adjacent to Shannon.
He recalled the major influence “visionary” Brendan O’Regan had on the development of Shannon.
“We now need a new model and new structure that can drive the airport in terms of the economic development for the entire mid-west,” Mr Leddin said.