Shannon Group taps top airport chief to replace Neil Pakey as CEO

Former Vantage Airport Group chief commercial officer Matthew Thomas will replace outgoing Shannon Group boss Neil Pakey as chief executive in June after the group yesterday confirmed his appointment.

The announcement late last year that Pakey was to leave the group when his contract expired was seen as a shock and potential blow to the company and wider region given his extensive experience.

In Thomas, the group has landed a replacement with a remarkably similar record, however. Thomas joins from Vantage Airport Group where Pakey acted as a senior director before joining Shannon Group.

The 43-year old Manchester native has also held the roles of chief commercial officer and subsequently chief executive of Peel Airports following its acquisition by Vantage.

Peel comprises Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Doncaster Robin Hood Airport and Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Pakey is a former managing director of John Lennon Airport and chief executive of Peel Airports.

“I am delighted to announce Matthew’s appointment as the new CEO of Shannon Group plc.

"He brings to the role a deep knowledge of the aviation industry combined with significant commercial experience. He combines pragmatic, effective management with strategic purpose and has an excellent track record.

“We are very fortunate to have secured an executive of Matthew’s ability and proven international experience to drive our strategic agenda, not just for the benefit of Shannon Group, but for the benefit of the Irish economy as a whole,” Shannon Group chairman Rose Hynes said.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe also welcomed the appointment.

As Vantage chief operations officer, the Sheffield University graduate played a leading role in winning the recent €3.48bn redevelopment contract of the Central Terminal at New York’s La Guardia Airport, the largest public-private-partnership in the United States.

He also had responsibility for the development of Vantage’s portfolio of eight airports in four countries, and was a board member of Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau, Bahamas and John C Munro Airport in Hamilton, Toronto.

Mr Thomas, who has been appointed on a five-year term, said he is looking forward to moving to Ireland.

“I’m excited to be coming to Shannon and Ireland at this time, and to have this opportunity to share my diverse experience with the Shannon Group. Shannon has an iconic place in aviation history.

“I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues in Shannon, the board of directors and all of the stakeholders to ensure the group grows and makes the impact the West of Ireland deserves,” Mr Thomas said.


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