Outgoing Shannon boss says airport has delivered

Neil Pakey reveals group contributed extra €105m since DAA breakaway

Neil Pakey said that, along with the airport’s growth, the heritage business also expanded, winning the contract for this year’s 2016 centenary exhibition at the GPO in Dublin. Photograph: Arthur Ellis/Press 22.

Neil Pakey said that, along with the airport’s growth, the heritage business also expanded, winning the contract for this year’s 2016 centenary exhibition at the GPO in Dublin. Photograph: Arthur Ellis/Press 22.

 

Shannon Group contributed an extra €105 million to the economy since it broke from Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), outgoing chief executive Neil Pakey said.

Mr Pakey formally left the helm of the State company at the weekend at the conclusion of his three-year contract.

In a surprise move last December, Shannon announced that it would not be renewing the agreement despite the fact that the airport had grown significantly.

Speaking at the weekend, Mr Pakey indicated that he had no regrets about leaving.

“It’s great that I fulfilled the contract,” he said. “I came into an airport in decline, it had been separated from DAA, I helped transform it, and turn it around.”

He pointed out that a study by consultancy York Aviation shows that the growth at Shannon Airport over the three years to the end of 2015 delivered €105 million to the Republic’s economy, including €60 million to the group’s hinterland, and had created 1,070 new jobs.

Shannon commissioned the report, and it went to the group’s board. A copy was also given to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, although it was not published.

UK-based York has worked for Ryanair, London Transport, and airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol, Stansted, London City, Edinburgh and Krakow in Poland in recent years.

Aviation centre

Its report covered the period after the break with DAA and the establishment of the new Shannon Group, which took over responsibilty for the old Shannon Development as well as taking charge of the area’s new aviation centre of excellence and heritage business.

Mr Pakey joined as chief executive three years ago, six months into the timeframe covered by the report. He was the first to be appointed the role after Shannon broke from Dublin.

“It says that the decision to go independent has been proven to be the right one,” Mr Pakey said. He pointed out that passenger numbers at Shannon rose 25 per cent during the period. Last year 1.7 million travelled through there.

The government helped to drive this growth by axing a 3 per cent passenger tax in 2014, prompting both Ryanair and Aer Lingus to increase the number of flights out of the Republic’s airports, including Shannon.

Mr Pakey said that, along with the airport’s growth, the heritage business also expanded, winning the contract for this year’s 2016 centenary exhibition at the GPO in Dublin.

He noted that Shannon Development had been wound down. It is now a commercial property business.

One challenge facing Mr Pakey’s successor will be tackling the 47 per cent vacancy rate on a group of properties in an area stretching from counties Offaly to Kerry.

Departure

Days before his departure, the Regional and Business Airports’ Group elected Mr Pakey chairman at its annual gathering at Britain’s National Exhibition Centre at Birmingham Airport. He confirmed that he has been discussing a number of opportunities.

He acknowledged that he would have been happy to stay had Shannon offered a second term. “Either way I wish them well,” he said.

Matthew Thomas of Canadian airport operator Vantage takes over as chief executive of the State-owned group.

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