Speaking following the re launching of the Duty Free Shop at Shannon Airport on Monday evening last, Clare TD and Chairman of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade said that the “Back to basics approach adopted by the Airport Authority is reaping benefits for the Airport and the Region.”
“Shannon Airport’s success over the years was built on the foundation of innovation and enterprising spirit of its founding visionaries and it is the return to this vision which is now reaping benefits for the new Airport Authority.
67 years after the setting up of World’s First Duty Free by Brendan O’Regan RIP , there was an excitement and enthusiasm about the future of the Airport at the re launching of the Duty Free last night, that I have not witnessed for a number of years.
Since its inauguration in 1947, Shannon Duty Free became the showcase for Irish Products and the Duty Free experience is one which is now enjoyed by visitors from all over the world. The return to the Shannon Brand which is internationally recognised is a very welcome development and I would like to congratulate the Management and Staff for taking this initiative.
Last night was not just a celebration of the past it was also an acknowledgement of the role that the Shannon Duty Free can play in bolstering commercial revenues at the Airport into the future.
The optimism about the Airports fortunes is being bolstered by its robust passenger traffic growth year on year, since the newly independent Airport Authority became operational on the 1st January 2013.
According to Tourism Ireland, a record number of passengers travelled through Shannon Airport for the first six months of this year, up 15% and ahead of the national average. And that positive traffic growth has continued into October with the Airport showing a 28% increase on the same period last year. While the number of transatlantic passengers was up by 15% given the increased frequency and capacity on the New York and Boston services, the most significant growth has been on European Routes with a 111% increase in European passengers in October 2014 to October 2013. The UK market is also showing very positive signs up 6% last month.
This growth in European and UK Traffic has been driven by the Governments decision to axe the travel tax. The abolition of the tax has seen Aer Lingus Regional Traffic rise by 43% at Shannon year on year to September while the new routes and additional capacity provided by Ryanair has provided a major boost to the Airports European connectivity and there is optimism that this upward trajectory can be sustained over the coming months with Ryanair adding an additional five routes to their winter network providing an additional 300,000 extra seats into Shannon.
When passenger traffic takes off at Shannon Airport, the Tourism Industry here is the first to benefit from the upsurge in activity. The one millionth visitor was recorded at the Cliffs of Moher last month and a record 20,368 people visited the Loop Head Lighthouse this year. The ongoing promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way and the extension of the lower Vat rate will enable this Industry to plan and to market for next year in the knowledge that we are now able to offer lower-cost tourism options to tourists and local people who are frequenting our, pubs, hotels and restaurants.
While the focus to date has been on developing passenger traffic, a special emphasis must now be placed on developing other aviation related activity at the Airport especially cargo. Over the next 20 years, world air cargo traffic is forecast to grow 4.7% per year and Shannon Airport is ideally positioned to become a Cargo Hub and capitalise on the opportunities that this cargo growth presents.
The back to basics approach adopted by the Airport Authority marked by the rebirth of the enterprising and innovative spirit which was synonymous with the Airports early development will ensure a very bright future for Shannon Airport and for the wider Region.”