Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on all Mid-West politicians to unite around the call for Shannon Airport to be reintegrated under the control of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) with a new management team.
Whilst welcoming cross-party consensus that change at the top was needed for the Shannon Group, Senator Gavan stressed that politicians calling for a change of management was not enough.
Senator Gavan said: “Shannon Airport must be brought back under the control of the DAA. Simply calling for a change of management personnel misses the fundamental flaw in the current structure.
“The experiment of an ‘independent’ airport that started in 2013 has been a failure by any metric. The Shannon Group’s management of one of the Midwest’s most important facilities must come to an end. The Government parties of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens need to be very clear on this point.
“Nine out of ten flights from Ireland leave the east-coast, mostly via Dublin Airport. There must be a progressive policy of redistributing flights to regional airports like Shannon. This can only happen under one centralised airport management structure.
“Indeed, we’ve already seen how Cork Airport (a DAA-controlled airport) has benefited from this policy in recent years at a time when Shannon’s passenger numbers were consistently lagging behind.
“Talk of competition between airports on an island of our size was always a nonsensical policy, that was doomed to failure.
“Shannon Airport can only benefit from the redistribution of flights if it once again comes under the control of the Dublin Aviation Authority.
“Ireland’s largest trade unions SIPTU, and Forsa, along with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have all called for the DAA to take the helm in Shannon. Now that there’s cross-party consensus that a change of management is needed, we need cross-party consensus that the DAA should deliver that change.
“Similarly, Shannon Group has demonstrated it cannot manage our heritage sites in the public interest. This was demonstrated very clearly with the decision to close the heritage sites during the summer season, at a time when the tourism sector had already been devastated by the pandemic.
“Sinn Féin is calling for those heritage sites to be taken out of the control of Shannon Group and instead to be run directly by the Office of Public Works so it can be run in the public interest.
“These fundamental changes are needed immediately to ensure that when a recovery in air travel begins post-Covid, we have an airport and management structure that is fit for purpose.”