Review supports continuation of State funding for Shannon Airport

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan also receives Cabinet approval for Dart Plus West plan
Review supports continuation of State funding for Shannon Airport

The world’s largest aircraft, Antonov 225, touching down at Shannon Airport in October. A review of Shannon Airport has found that the group should continue to receive exchequer funding. Picture: Arthur Ellis

A review of Shannon Airport has found that the group should continue to receive State funding, the Cabinet has heard.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdown in international travel will continue to impact the airport next year, the review has found.

The airport's passenger numbers collapsed in the wake of the introduction of Covid-related travel restrictions, tumbling almost 1.4m to 352,000 last year.

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan presented the medium-term financial review of Shannon Group, which covers the period up to the end of 2022. The review was completed by the New Economy and Recovery Authority (NewERA), which supports the continuation of exchequer funding for Shannon Airport in 2022.

Shannon and Cork airports are eligible for €36m in funding under the regional airports programme 2022. The allocation is targeted at safety, security, and sustainability measures.

Covid impact

The impact of Covid-19 at Shannon Airport in 2021 and 2022 is expected to be more severe than anticipated by Shannon Group, given that restrictions on international travel remained in place into 2021.

"Given the challenges that are ahead, aligned with continued levels of uncertainty in international travel, NewERA support the continuation of exchequer support for next year," a Government spokesman said.

Mr Ryan also received approval from the Government for the Dart Plus West project to move into the planning system. The Government also approved the preliminary business case for the wider Dart Plus project which includes Dart Plus West, Dublin.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien received approval for the text of the Regulation of Providers of Building Works Bill 2021, drawn up in light of the mica/pyrite controversy.

Known as the Construction Industry Register Ireland (CIRI) bill, the main objective of this legislation "is to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice, and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector", according to a Government spokesman.

The bill will place the CIRI on a statutory footing.

"A robust monitoring statutory register is critical for the development of a culture of competence and compliance in the construction sector," the spokesman added.

Mandatory statutory regulation is necessary to protect the public from the risks posed by defective buildings as the only way to ensure the builders only take on work to which they are competent and registered to undertake."

The voluntary register has been in operation since 2014 and has around 800 registered members. The Government expects this to increase substantially when the register becomes mandatory and, therefore, a transition period will be required to provide sufficient time for builders to adapt to their new obligations.

The level of any registration fee must be approved by the minister. An initial grant will be provided of around €1.8m.

Meanwhile, the Tánaiste sought approval to provide for a further extension, to April 30, 2022, of the temporary measures introduced in the Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Covid-19) Act 2020.

The act helps businesses by providing for temporary amendments to insolvency law by increasing the period of protection afforded by examinership from 100 to 150 days and the amount at which a creditor can issue a statutory demand.

"While the economy is recording robust levels of growth, certain sectors, such as retail and hospitality, have been disproportionately impacted relative to sectors such as IT and the pharmaceutical industry," a statement said.

"The second [consideration] is the current trajectory of the virus in terms of potential public health impacts. The recent surge in cases gives cause for concern and introduces an uncertainty which is likely to extend through the winter."

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