The worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737-Max aircraft will cost the region served by Shannon Airport €58m this year.
That is according to the acting chief executive of the Shannon Group Mary Considine who told a special meeting of Clare County Council that the loss of 120,000 passengers from three services affected by the Boeing Max grounding will end six years of passenger growth at Shannon Airport.
Ms Considine said that passenger numbers at Shannon have increased by 34% since separation from the Dublin Airport Authority but said that the loss to the region as a result of the Boeing-Max grounding will be “huge”, putting the estimated cost at €58m to the region for 2019.
The grounding of the Boeing-Max has resulted in the axing of two services by Norwegian Airlines to the US and one Air Canada service to Toronto for 2019.
Ms Considine told the meeting that the grounding of the Boeing aircraft has resulted in the loss of 13 services per week at Shannon.
Transatlantic passenger numbers have increased by 48% at Shannon since separation from the DAA and Ms Considine said that Shannon has been disproportionately affected by the Boeing Max issue due to Shannon being more reliant on the US than other Irish airports.
She said that the airport’s passenger numbers will be down this year after six years of growth. “They are the facts and the hard reality because you can’t replace those services overnight,” she said.
Ms Considine said there is no stone being left being unturned by Shannon Airport staff to ensure the success of Shannon.
We want the airport to not only succeed but to grow. We have ambitious targets. If we are not ambitious, we are going nowhere. Okay, we may not achieve it this year or next year, but we will get there.
Ms Considine told the meeting that Shannon Airport does not get any Government support but said that under EU rules it is eligible for government supports.
“A lack of support is curtailing our ability to fund other projects and address historic under-investment,” she said.
The chief executive of Clare County Council Pat Dowling told the meeting that “the dominance of Dublin Airport cannot be allowed to spell the death-knell of Shannon.”
At the meeting, the Shannon Group was criticised by a number of councillors for not marketing the airport at the successful staging of the Irish Open in Lahinch.
“Shannon Airport had no presence at Lahinch. This will go down as a gigantic missed marketing opportunity for our local airport,” said Clare mayor Cathal Crowe.
In response, Ms Considine said the airport would have loved to have been involved in marketing at the Irish Open “but our budgets didn’t allow that”.
“We don’t have a huge pot of money to be out there marketing,” she said.
She said that the airport is continuing to drive down costs and has made some progress on this in talks with unions in 2019.
Councillor Colleran Molloy said that talking to a Shannon businessman, the biggest challenge for the airport is to make US tourists aware of the existence of Shannon Airport because they continue to fly into Dublin Airport not knowing about Shannon.