Will Rose Hynes keep Shannon Airport aloft for another year?

Cantillon: Shane Ross extends chairwoman’s tenure as aviation industry in holding pattern

Shannon Airport  faces a decline in passengers in 2019. The number that travelled through the airport in June was down 12 per cent

Shannon Airport faces a decline in passengers in 2019. The number that travelled through the airport in June was down 12 per cent

 

Most observers were not surprised that the Minster for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, extended Rose Hynes’s tenure as chairwoman of Shannon Group, the State company that owns the mid-western airport, for another year.

Hynes’s five-year tenure was due to expire on Wednesday August 28th, but Ross had been widely expected to extend her contract.

Along with the airport, Shannon Group is responsible for commercial property, the free zone and a heritage business that includes both Bunratty and Malahide castles in counties Clare and Dublin respectively.

Shannon Airport’s passenger numbers grew by one-third since it was separated from from DAA six years ago, to 1.86 million in 2018. This could be seen as justification for the decision to allow it to operate on its own rather than under the control of the State company that runs Dublin and Cork airports.

However, travellers at all the State’s airports have grown in that time. This resulted from the Government’s decision to axe travel tax, prompting airlines to increase flights and routes, and more general economic growth that boosted both business travel and tourism. So, one could speculate that Shannon would have grown anyway, irrespective of independence.

The Max’s grounding is having reverberations throughout aviation, not least on airlines, including Ryanair

One thing is clear: Shannon faces a decline in passengers in 2019. The number that travelled through the airport in June was down 12 per cent. The group blamed this on delays in the delivery to airlines of Boeing’s 737 Max, which air travel safety regulators grounded earlier this year following two crashes.

This cost Shannon 120,000 seats, some of them on the transatlantic flights operated by Norwegian Air, a service that is not going to return. The Max’s grounding is having reverberations throughout aviation, not least on airlines, including Ryanair.

Most expect the craft to return to service late this year. At the same time, ratings agency Moody’s latest assessment of aviation trends predicts a return to growth in 2020. So, the picture for Shannon could be a lot clearer when Hynes’s extension ends in 12 months’ time.

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