Separation will lead to over 850 jobs

Over 850 jobs are due to be created as a result of the decision to grant Shannon Airport full independence from the Dublin Airport Authority, formally announced by the Government yesterday.

Two Shannon-based firms have said they would expand their operations if the struggling airport was separated from control of the DAA.

The Irish Examiner understands that Transaero Engineering, a Russian-owned aircraft maintenance facility based at Shannon, which employs 240 staff, is one of the two firms which will create hundreds of jobs over the next few years.

Under the plans announced yesterday, the assets of Shannon Airport will be transferred to the Shannon Airport Authority on Dec 31, while legislation to underpin its merger with Shannon Development to form a new semi-state commercial body will be introduced later in 2013.

The new body will be charged with developing a new international aviation services centre at Shannon.

A taskforce estimates that the structure should result in 3,500 jobs over the next five years.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said granting independence to Shannon was “a historic decision”.

“It will put the airport back on a solid footing and on a debt-free basis,” he said after sanctioning that Shannon’s debts of €100m would be retained by the DAA.

Passenger numbers at Shannon have declined by 60% over the past five years — down to 1.4m in 2011. However, Mr Varadkar insisted that projections that Shannon could increase passenger traffic to 2.5m by 2012 were realistic.

Mr Varadkar said there would be no compulsory redundancies.

On the possible separation of Cork Airport from the DAA Mr Varadkar said it was a very different case as Cork had much higher levels of debt than Shannon.

The move was criticised by Knock Airport, which claimed the Government had discriminated in favour of state-owned airports.

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