Sinn Féin TD for Limerick City Maurice Quinlivan has called on the Minister for Transport to appoint a new Chairperson of the Shannon Group as a matter of urgency.
Deputy Quinlivan made his comments following the announcement last night that current Chairperson Pádraig Ó Céidigh is stepping down from his role.
Teachta Quinlivan said:
“Last night’s announcement is very unfortunate coming so soon after the relaunch of transatlantic flights from Shannon Airport.
“There is a huge body of work that needs to be done to protect and enhance Shannon Airport, and I hope that a new chairperson will be appointed as a matter of urgency. I would also like to wish Mr Ó Céidigh well for the future.
“It is vital that we get the next appointment right. Shannon Group went over 12 months without a chairperson following the departure of Rose Hynes in August 2020.
“In February 2021 the appointment of Aaaron Forde was halted and it took a further six months for Mr Ó Céidigh to be appointed.
“There are huge challenges at Shannon Airport, many of these arising out of the suspension of many routes and operations during the Covid pandemic.
“Mr Ó Céidigh had set out an ambitious plan to restore passenger numbers to pre-Covid levels by 2024. I hope that a new chairperson will continue with this important task.
“It is vital that the minister gets the next appointment right. It seems extraordinary to me that the outgoing chairperson was not aware of how much of a body of work such a role would entail.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, which has had devastating effects for both the airline and travel industries, it is crucially important that Shannon Airport is protected and enhanced to meet the challenges it faces.
“I am urging the Minister to expedite this third appointment as a priority. His handling of the aviation crisis since his appointment has been reactive and uninspiring.
“So many families and businesses are dependent both directly and indirectly on Shannon Airport and its future.
“While the appointment of a new chairperson will not rescue the situation, such an appointment would send a signal that the Minister and his department are serious in their efforts to address the decline of Shannon Airport.
“It is essential that the incoming chairperson, whoever that may be, is fully aware of the enormity of the task.
“They need to ensure that they can commit fully to the role and address the numerous challenges facing Shannon Group. It is a vital component for the recovery of the Mid-West region.”