Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has said his department is working through the mechanism by which Shannon Airport can exit the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
In an interview yesterday, Mr Varadkar said he favoured Shannon securing its independence with an input from the private sector, an option put forward by consultancy firm Booz.
In an interview on Clare FM yesterday, Mr Varadkar said an Irish Financial Services Centre model for the aviation industry “might be the way to go in Shannon”.
He also cited the model of the Dublin Docklands.
Mr Varadkar said the new model was not only about getting passengers back into Shannon, “but getting sustainable businesses and new businesses building up in and around the airport, that is really where its potential lies”.
He said: “We are trying to make a success of an airport that is declining and declining rapidly... There is a fairly good chance that Knock will take over Shannon this year in terms of passenger numbers.”
It is understood that Shannon has accumulated debts of about €100m.
Mr Varadkar said: “You could write off the debt altogether and leave the airport with no money at all or you could write off part of the debt and leave it with some money to create a cash buffer it may need for a number of years.
“If the starting point is ‘what handouts we are going to get?’, or ‘what subsidies are we going to get?’, the mentality is wrong and the airport won’t be a success. The starting point has to be how can we be turning a profit in three or four years time.
“We hope to have a roadmap in place around Easter and have a detailed business plan ready before summer and have the new structures in place by the end of this year.”
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