Failure to upgrade Shannon Duty Free is a big blow to Shannon Airport – BREEN

February 20th, 2009 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen said today that the failure to invest in a much needed upgrade of the Shannon Duty Free Shop is a big blow to Shannon Airport. He is calling on the DAA not to sacrifice Shannon Airport’s future development for their own strategic advantage and he is also urging the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey T.D. to fast track the completion of discussions and to put in place the structure immediately to allow the Airport to be the author of its own destiny.

Shannon Airport was the first Airport in the World to open a Duty Free and over the years the concept of Duty Free Shopping has extended worldwide. Shannon Duty Free has been a showcase for Irish Products and the Duty Free experience is one which has been enjoyed by visitors from all over the world.”

“The Duty Free Shop at Shannon Airport has adapted down through the years to the changing shopping environment. It adapted following the abolition of EU Duty Free Sales in 1999 and again in November 2006 following the introduction of the EU Aviation Security Regulation and the requirements regarding the purchase of liquids.”

“The impact of Open Skies and the recent decision by Ryanair to reduce their short-haul services at Shannon will put further pressures on the Airport and the Duty Free Shop needed to adapt once again to the changing needs of the Traveller.”

“This development however is being curbed by the Dublin Airport Authority and once again it appears that Shannon Airport’s development is being sacrificed. We are going backwards and it is not good enough that Shannon Airport has to be content with the crumbs from the Dublin table. This upgrade of the Shop’s infrastructure was essential and it is very worrying now that it has been stopped.”

The Dublin Airport Authority must not be allowed to curb Shannon’s future development for its own strategic advantage, namely the development of T2 at Dublin Airport. They continue to have too much control over Shannon’s purse strings.”

“When the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey announced the decision not to proceed with the break-up of the three Airports he promised that the appropriate governance issues would be resolved. I raised this matter with the Minister recently by way of parliamentary question and he advised me that discussions are taking place between the three Chairpersons of the three Airport Authorities and that “The aim is to put in place structures that will allow Cork and Shannon airports to be operated under a commercial mandate at local level while ensuring appropriate safeguards for accountability to the DAA.”

“Quite clearly the structures are not in place to allow Shannon operate under a commercial mandate at local level.””Minister Dempsey must ensure that the DAA divests the financial resources to the Management of Shannon Airport so that they can steer the Airport through these turbulent times.”

The Airport must be the author of its own destiny and Minister Dempsey must fast track these discussions because in the absence of the finalisation of an Agreement Shannon Airport is losing out.”

See Parliamentary Question Underneath for your information.

Dáil Question

No: 131

*To ask the Minister for Transport his views on the three airports at Dublin, Cork and Shannon following his decision to postpone separation; his plans going forward; if changes are required in terms of corporate governance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.

* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 5th February, 2009.

Ref No: 3965/09

Answered by the Minister for Transport

Noel Dempsey, T.D.

Reply

When I considered the business plans of the three airports and the views of the boards, I accepted their overall conclusion that it would be best to defer the separation of the three airports (under the State Airports Act 2004) given the current very difficult aviation market. I took the view that it would be best to provide a reasonable period of time to enable the boards and management to address the very significant challenges facing the aviation market and decided to defer separation to 2011.

Discussions are taking place between the chairpersons of the three airport authorities to ensure that appropriate governance arrangements are in place in the period before eventual separation. The aim is to put in place structures that will allow Cork and Shannon airports to be operated under a commercial mandate at local level while ensuring appropriate safeguards for accountability to the DAA. I should add that these governance arrangements will provide an opportunity for Cork Airport to realise the potential provided by the very substantial investment in the airport in recent years. Shannon Airport will also be in a strong position to reap the benefits of US pre clearance facilities, due for introduction at the airport in the summer.