Financial sustainability is the key for a successful take-off – BREEN.

October 25th, 2012 - Pat Breen

Clare T.D. and Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pat Breen said today (Wednesday) that financial sustainability is the key for a successful take-off for a restructured Shannon Airport.

Deputy Breen made his comments in response to the update which he received from the Minister for Transport and Sport Leo Varadkar T.D. on the status of proposals to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority, when the subject was discussed in the Dail.
“Following the announcement to separate Shannon Airport from the DAA, the Government set up two task forces under the Chairmanship of John Fitzgerald and Rose Hynes respectively. These task forces were charged with bringing forward proposals for the implementation of that decision. I am aware that considerable work has already been done by the Groups and I am glad to note that their reports are expected to be finalised and their proposals submitted to the Minister by mid-November. When their proposals have been fully evaluated by the Steering Group and the Ministers for Transport and Tourism and Jobs, Enterprise and Skills, Leo Varadkar T.D. and Richard Bruton T.D. detailed proposals will then be put to Government for their consideration.”
“Proposals for Shannon Airport by the previous Administration failed because a half-way house arrangement which was put in place in 2004, left Shannon Airport in limbo with limited autonomy from Dublin and strangled the Airports ability to grow and develop. This Government is determined to restore and strengthen Shannon Airport’s role as the key driver for economic activity in the West of Ireland ensuring that the Governance Structure which is put in place now supports the delivery of a financially sustainable Airport going forward. And in that regard, I welcome Minister Varadkar’s recognition that the new Company needs to be placed on a sustainable financial footing.”
“The Airport is strategically the most important piece of infrastructure in the entire Region underpinning thousands of Industrial and Tourism jobs in its hinterland. Historically, the Airport has performed best when it had strong local control over its own business development. The New Structure which will be put in place will allow the Airport to be resilient over the longer-term.”
“The mix of aviation business activity at Shannon Airport has been a key factor in the Airports success over the years. Shannon is predominately a passenger Airport so it is important that there is a focus on increasing capacity and extending the range of scheduled and charter services into the Airport. The Business and Tourism Sectors in this Region are very anxious to have a greater choice of destinations available from Shannon, in order to avoid the necessity to travel to Dublin Airport, a journey which is adding considerably to their costs. I am aware that the Aviation Business Development Task Force in conjunction with Local Management are working on a number of initiatives and the recent announcements by United Airlines and Wings Abroad are very positive in this regard and I expect that we will see further announcements ahead of the 2013 summer season.”
“Work is also well underway to extend the services provided by the US Pre Clearance Facility, which would allow the Airport to compete for further Transit and Business Jet Traffic, and I also expect to see developments in this area before the year end.”
“An essential part of the implementation strategy in my view, is firstly to ensure financial sustainability, but also to ensure that the Staff who are the Airports greatest resource are fully briefed and engaged in the process as it moves forward. I would also like to see a satisfactory resolution to the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme deficit addressed in advance of any change.
“Financial sustainability is the key for a successful take-off of the new Structure. This will allow Shannon Airport’s enterprising spirit to flourish, heralding a new era for both the Airport and the Region.”
ENDS
Oral PQ Replies Attached Underneath for your information.

October 18th
58. Deputy Pat Breen
asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update on Shannon Airport, with particular reference to the status of proposals to separate Shannon from the Dublin Airport Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44952/12]
Deputy Leo Varadkar:
These questions relate to the separation of Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority. As the Deputies will recall, following the Government decision in principle in May to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority and merge it in a new entity with a restructured Shannon Development, a steering group of senior officials from five key Departments was established to bring forward proposals for the implementation of that decision.
As part of the restructuring of Shannon Development, the latter’s functions in respect of enterprise supports, both for domestic companies and inward investment, will transfer to Enterprise Ireland and the IDA respectively while the agency’s tourism functions, including the regional tourism offices, will transfer to Fáilte Ireland. In this regard, last month the Government approved proposals from the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to amend the IDA Act 1986 to enable Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland to carry out enterprise development functions in the Shannon Free Zone. These changes will bring a more integrated, streamlined and focused discipline to the delivery of both enterprise support and tourism services in the region.
The steering group is being assisted by two task forces which were established in June. The aviation business development task force is seeking out and evaluating aviation-linked business opportunities that could be associated with the new Shannon entity while the change management task force is developing proposals for transitional arrangements and for the appropriate corporate, managerial and operational structures of the new entity, including matters related to IT, HR, finance and property. This latter task force is also drawing up proposals for the transfer of Shannon Development functions to the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Fáilte Ireland.
I understand that these groups are well advanced in their examination of the range of issues that must be assessed in some detail in order to arrive at the best way forward for the new entity at Shannon. I also understand that the timescale for the task forces to submit their proposals remains mid November. When those proposals have been evaluated by the steering group, both myself and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, will revert to Government before the end of the year with detailed proposals including an implementation strategy for the establishment of the new entity.
In the meantime, Shannon Airport is continuing its business operations including maintaining its existing airline customers and attracting new business where possible. This includes a range of schemes on offer to incentivise airlines to increase services and passenger numbers at the airports. In addition to the usual schemes, a new growth incentive scheme was introduced last year by the DAA at the three State airports which is due to run until 2014. This scheme is one element of the three pronged strategy announced last year by Government as part of the jobs initiative to encourage inbound tourism. In this regard, the recent decision by United Airlines to operate a new Chicago-Shannon service five times a week next summer is very welcome.

79. Deputy Pat Breen
asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide an update in the Gathering 2013; the measures being taken to provide additional transatlantic capacity into Shannon Airport in order that the west of Ireland can capitalise on this initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44953/12]
Deputy Leo Varadkar:
These questions relate to the Gathering 2013 project, the resources for same and the role for Shannon Airport in such. With regard to general progress on the Gathering, I refer Deputies to my earlier answer to Question No. 4 on this matter.
In terms of resources, this year my Department has allocated a budget of €5 million for the initiative. It is planned to provide a small amount of additional funding for Gathering events at county-local level in the near future. Details of this are being worked out at present and will be announced shortly.
With regard to additional capacity into Shannon Airport, it is a matter for all airlines and the airports themselves to maximise the opportunities presented by the Gathering. In this regard, the Deputy will be aware of the recent announcement by United Airlines of a new service linking Shannon and Chicago for next summer which will operate five days a week and provides a very welcome boost for tourism to the west.