Shannon Development wants an ownership and operational role in the new Shannon Airport structure.
Vincent Cunnane was speaking ahead of a visit by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to Shannon today, where he is expected to update the Shannon Chamber of Commerce on plans to overhaul the ownership structure at the airport.
Mr Cunnane also questioned the view that Shannon Airport is a significant loss-maker and said reports on its loss-making “deflects from the opportunity at Shannon”.
Mr Varadkar is due to make an announcement on Shannon before Easter and has been strongly hinting at a regional role in the running of the airport.
Mr Varadkar has stated that Shannon recorded an €8m loss last year and a similar loss in 2010.
However, Mr Cunnane said: “I would like to get behind those figures. I don’t believe that it is the huge loss-making airport that Shannon is sometimes painted to be.”
A former board member of the Shannon Airport Authority, Mr Cunnane said the losses include non-cash depreciation costs.
Mr Cunnane said a clear, hard look at the real balance sheet of the airport is required.
He said: “If that is done, it can be seen that the airport can survive as an independent entity and realise much more opportunities from a developmental point of view.”
Mr Cunnane said: “The best interests of the airport will be served by separation.”
The chief executive of Shannon Development continued: “We believe that we have a part to play in an ownership and operational side of the airport, not necessarily on the airfield part of operations.”
Mr Cunnane said that driving traffic through Shannon Airport has been part of Shannon Development’s mandate since 1959. “That hasn’t changed,” he said.
“The idea that regional interests would take on the management of Shannon Airport without the involvement of Shannon Development seems to be simply not feasible.”
Advancing the case for Shannon Development involvement in the new structure, Mr Cunnane said “the agency has a very commercial orientation and is very market-focused in the way we do business”.
“We are in a unique position to bridge the public and private sector interests that may be involved in running Shannon under the new structure,” Mr Cunnane said.
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