The Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the independent Shannon Airport has exceeded his expectations to record a profit in its first year of operation.
The airport was formally separated from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to go it alone in January of last year and recorded a marginal increase in passenger numbers to 1.4m in its first year after five years of passenger decline.
In Shannon yesterday, Shannon Group chairwoman Rose Hynes confirmed she presented a “report card” to Mr Varadkar on the airport’s first year performance that showed that the airport recording a small profit.
She said: “The airport has paid its own way since separation. Absolutely, no doubt about it. We are completely independent. There is no other way. We are on our own. We are independent. That is what it means.”
At the press briefing in Shannon, Mr Varadkar admitted: “To be brutally honest as minister, I didn’t think the airport would manage a profit in year one, I thought it would take three years for that to happen. That is one of the areas where we are ahead of schedule.”
He said: “After five years of passenger decline, we had an increase in passenger numbers last year. The financial position of the airport is very strong and last year was about stabilisation and making a reality of a merger and this year is about growth.”
Mr Varadkar said it was a leap of faith for politicians and people on the ground in the mid-west for the airport to go it alone “and we are now seeing good evidence of it paying off”.
The minister said that the profit last year means “that the airport is a stronger position to invest and do things. If you are making losses, you are eating into your reserves.”
Chief executive of the Shannon Group, Neil Pakey said the airport is projecting double digit percentage passenger growth this year based mainly on increased Ryanair services and increases services on transatlantic routes.
“During the last six months, we have been successful in securing new capacity and have to make sure the marketing is right and we are hopefully looking at double digit-plus growth.”
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