Shannon Airport appoints Matthew Thomas as new chief executive

He previously worked on Canadian group Vantage’s $4 billion La Guardia bid

Barry O’Halloran

Matthew Thomas of Canadian aiport operator Vantage will take over as chief executive of State-owned Shannon Group next month.

British-born Mr Thomas will succeed Neil Pakey, whose contract formally ends in June - and acting chief executive, Mary Considine.

He will have responsibility for the group’s airport, commercial property and heritage management businesses and takes over as the organisation plans to invest €60 million across its companies.


One of the challenges he faces is tackling the 47 per cent vacancy rate in Shannon's commercial properties, which are spread across an area stretching from Birr Co Offaly to Tralee Co Kerry.

He also joins at a time when the group is focusing on controlling spending. Chairwoman Rose Hynes noted in a statement accompanying its recently-published annual report that it needs to "re-align" its costs to cash to allow future growth.

Passenger numbers at Shannon Airport grew 5 per cent last year to 1.7 million. This followed a 17 per cent boost in traffic in 2014 which resulted from Ryanair and Aer Lingus launching new services on the back ofthe Government decision to axe travel tax.

Mr Thomas is chief commercial officer of Vancouver-based Vantage. He has worked in Canada and Britain, where he had charge of Liverpool, Doncaster and Durham airports.

Most recenty he worked on Vantage’s successful bid for the $4 billion redevelopment of New York’s La Guardia Airport’s central terminal, the US’s biggest public-private partnership.

Mr Thomas was also involved in talks at other US airports, including JFK in New York, Chicago and Denver Colorado.

Vantage owns four aiports in Canada, one in Nassau, one in Montego Bay and Pafos and Larnaka in Cyprus. Established in 1994 it has owned or managed 27 airports around the world over the last 22 years.

Mr Thomas has been on the board of Lynden Pindling Airport in Nassau, Bahamas and John C Munro Airport at Toronto in Canada.

He said on Tuesday that he was delighted to be coming to Shannon at this time. “Shannon has an iconic place in aviation history,” he said. “ It is the gateway to the wild Atlantic way, and I know that it is very important to both the regional and national economy.”

Ms Hynes said that Mr Thomas had a deep knowledge of the aviation industry combined with significant commercial experience.

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe, also welcomed the appointment.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas