SECURING connection with a major European hub for Shannon airport is part of a plan that Transport Minister Shane Ross has requested from airport management.
Shannon Airport is the only international airport in the country not connected to a European hub.
The high-level meeting, which was arranged by Limerick Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell, discussed a range of matters, including the group’s five-year strategic plan, Brexit and re-establishing a major European hub for the airport.
“A very constructive meeting took place with Minister Ross and the Shannon Group management team which I also attended,” Senator O’Donnell said.
“Minister Ross is very supportive of plans to progress linking Shannon Airport with a major European Hub. To this end, he asked the airport management team to provide him and his department with a detailed plan to connect to a major European hub.
“He also made it clear that he is very keen for increased competition to be provided to Dublin Airport by Shannon Airport.
“Fundamental to the Project 2040 plan is to promote stronger regions outside of Dublin, with Shannon Airport being one of the key drivers here. I feel very strongly that Shannon Airport must be fully Brexit ready for all eventualities.
“A European hub for Shannon would greatly contribute to providing a competitive counter-balance to Dublin and the Eastern seaboard,” Senator O’Donnell said.
In 2018, the airport enjoyed its best year this decade with growth of 6.5 per cent bringing total passenger numbers to more than 1.86 million.
Total growth since the airport severed links with the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) is 33 per cent.
“With a passenger capacity of 4.5 million, the potential for growing connectivity and passenger numbers at Shannon is a very real and exciting one.
“To complement the existing good connectivity through Heathrow, and with the Brexit countdown underway, I believe that Shannon Airport requires direct major European hub connectivity. Airport management have been actively working on this agenda,” Senator O’Donnell added.
Previously, the airport had European hub connectivity, with CityJet flying twice daily to Charles de Gaulle in Paris from 2008 after Aer Lingus closed its Shannon to Heathrow route.
CityJet discontinued this Paris route in October 2009 after Aer Lingus restored the Heathrow route to Shannon.