Limerick business leader calls for regional airport fund

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Shannon Airport

A PLAN to gain more business for Shannon and other regional airports is needed rather than letting Dublin continue its runaway growth, a Mid West business leader has said.

Figures released by the Central Statistics Office this week highlights Shannon Airport as a cause for concern as the other major airports in the Republic record increases in their passenger numbers.

According to the CSO, Shannon has dropped passenger numbers by 5.2 per cent, while Dublin and Cork airports grew by 6.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively on the first nine months of last year. Knock and Kerry grew by almost two per cent each.

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Limerick Chamber chief executive James Ring said that regional airports could become unviable unless a specific strategic fund was put in place to give Dublin a run for its money.

The massive growth of passenger and flight numbers in Dublin is a clear sign that regional imbalance is growing, he said.

“If we are serious about regional development and balance, then we have to recognise that it hinges on the success of our airports. Foreign direct investment is massively important for the Shannon region and the airport has always been one of the big selling points. A strategic fund is needed to shore up routes that may be loss-making during some months of the year,” he added.

A spokesman for Shannon Airport said that the airport’s “significant transit business” was not taken into account when compiling the figures.

“This segment of the business has growth of 80% year-to-date thanks to additional frequencies from Kuwait Airways. When this is factored in, our total passenger numbers this year will be on a par with 2016, despite some capacity reductions on both Stanstead and Manchester,” he said.

The spokesman said that overall, Shannon has enjoyed a 25 per cent increase in passenger numbers since separation in 2013.

Meanwhile, figures just released by the Irish Aviation Authority confirm that commercial terminal flights at Shannon were up by 6.4 this year, with an average of 48 commercial daily movements at Shannon.

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