Shannon airport to lose €8m this year


THE MINISTER for Transport, Tourism and Sport has confirmed that Shannon airport is heading for an €8 million loss for this year.

“The way things are going, Shannon will not be important any more because there will be so few people going through it and I want it to be a strategic asset for the region,” Leo Varadkar said.

The Minister was in Bunratty Folk Park yesterday to announce €6.6 million in funding for various tourism projects, including €3.15 million for riverside improvements in Co Limerick and €1.22 million on Derrynane House in Co Kerry,

He confirmed that projected losses of about €8 million for Shannon this year, following combined losses of €16 million for the airport in 2010 and 2009.

“There is a difficulty with Shannon. It is losing money. It is losing over €8 million a year and in the past that was okay, because the profits in Dublin were enough to cover it, but Dublin isn’t making money any more either, largely as a consequence of T2, so we need to make sure that Shannon is sustainable in its own right.”

He added: “I would like to see Shannon operate as an autonomous entity running its own affairs, but that can only be done if it’s financially sustainable because there isn’t subsidies available for the airport.

“There wasn’t during the boom, there certainty isn’t now. We are certainly in a difficult position in terms of the budget.”

Mr Varadkar said he was not yet convinced by any of the options under consideration for the future of the airport “and that is the purpose of the process we are going through”, in reference to the consultant’s report he has commissioned on the future of Shannon and Cork airports.

He also ruled out writing off any debts Shannon airport had in any new structure.

“We are not in a position to write off any debts. A lot of State companies have debts and in many cases they are self-inflicted. If we were writing off debts for one State asset, we would have to do it for others and that is not something we are in a position to do.”

He added: “Shannon is a loss-making airport and the only sustainable future for an airport like Shannon is one where it is busy and you have a lot of people flying in and out. What we had over the last number of years is the airport been neglected by policymakers and the previous government and it can’t go on the way it is.”