Dempsey indicates separate airport plans to be shelved


MINISTER FOR Transport Noel Dempsey has given his clearest indication yet that he intends to shelve plans to complete separation of the three State airports, announced four years ago.

Speaking in Shannon, Mr Dempsey said he was awaiting a report from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and would be able to decide on separation in three or four weeks. He said circumstances were much changed since the decision was first made.

Under the 2004 State Airports Act, the authority assumed responsibility for all Aer Rianta assets, liabilities and contracts. Separate Shannon and Cork airport authorities were then set up.

It had been intended that the Shannon and Cork airport authorities would have the relevant airport assets vested in them and would assume responsibility for management, development and operation of the airports. The DAA has transferred significant operational responsibility to the two authorities, but both airports are still governed by the authority.

Mr Dempsey said: "From the time that this decision was made, huge changes have taken place economically and in the aviation industry, and that obviously has to be reflected in the decision that is made."

Patricia McCarthy, Shannon Town and Clare County Councillor, said: "Should the break-up not proceed as originally announced it would be important that Shannon airport be given a degree of flexibility, autonomy and access to finance which would enable it to promote and develop routes and infrastructure critical for the airport's continuing viability."