STRIKING a balance between costs and overheads will be the first major task facing the new chief executive of the Shannon Group over the coming weeks.
Rejecting criticism of the group’s cost base and high staffing levels, Matthew Thomas said he would be looking at all opportunities for growth and making sure that Shannon was in a position to unlock its full potential.
“Setting targets for where we are going to be in two or three years time is a bit of a mug’s game, if I am completely honest. We want to create a platform where the airlines have confidence in our market and then we will seek to grow again”, he said.
“We are in a very competitive and volatile industry and I don’t have a crystal ball but we going to do everything we can to position the airport for growth and the region to bring more tourists here and to create jobs.”
Referring to past promises of unlocking 1,000 jobs after Shannon’s separation from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), Mr Thomas said: “Shannon Group has a really important role in the wider region. We can have ambitious plans to enhance connectivity, to develop our land holdings, to deliver great tourist attractions, but really what we are talking about here is growing jobs and bringing more tourist to the region and that is more than just a Shannon Group task.
“There are a lot of people who have a big role in this, so whether it is the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Failte Ireland or the local authorities, we will be looking to have incredibly close working relationships with all the key stakeholders.
Responding to news that Ryanair would be dropping 100,000 passengers from its Shannon routes, the new CEO said that while growth in passenger numbers over the next three years was essential, “all airports have ebbs and flows, but if you have delivered 30 per cent growth in the last two years, it is entirely normal and natural that you then have a period where you are consolidating the growth.
Stating that Shannon has six connections with the US, which was unprecedented for an airport carrying two million passengers annually, Mr Thomas said; “we are able to take part in global aviation conversations that an airport of our size shouldn’t be able to take part in, but that is what makes this airport and region very unique.”