Chief’s first statement on future of Shannon

SHANNON Airport Authority chairman Brian O’Connell is set to make his first comprehensive public statement on the future of the airport today.

Since his appointment late last year, the businessman has adopted a very low public profile in his role as chairman of the authority.

Mr O’Connell’s time as chairman has coincided with plummeting passenger numbers and the SAA recently came under fire for increasing passenger charges at Shannon.

He has declined to comment in advance of his address today.

At his only other public briefing as SAA chairman last May with the announcement of Aer Arann-Aer Lingus flights out of Shannon, Mr O’Connell said the SAA’s board was drawing up adevelopment plan for the airport to be published this month.

Mr O’Connell, who is the driving force behind Westpark Shannon, briefed stakeholders in the region on the plan at a private meeting.

Councillors will have an opportunity to question Mr O’Connell on Shannon Airport’s recent decision to increase charges. The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) confirmed that the proposal emanated from the SAA.

Yesterday Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said: “There is a need for the airport authority to produce a credible plan taking account of the current economic situation.”

Mr Dooley said that when other businesses are remodelling to be more efficient, the only response from the SAA has been to increase charges.

* Meanwhile, management at Kerry Airport is seeking a meeting with Transport Minister Noel Dempsey to discuss the impact the removal of the €1.7 million Public Service Obligation (PSO) subsidy would have on the airport and the local economy.

This follows Ryanair’s decision to pull out of its PSO contract with the department and reduce services on the Kerry-Dublin route.

Ryanair in the Irish Examiner yesterday rejected a claim by Mr Dempsey that charges levied by the Irish Aviation Authority were a matter for that body and not the transport minister.

A Ryanair spokesman claimed Mr Dempsey issued a “direction” to aviation regulator Cathal Guiomard, last year, to set the fee in a way that would allow the Dublin Airport Authority recoup the cost of Terminal 2 (T2) and other facilities.


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