Shannon Airport is being crippled by the lack of decision making Powers – BREEN

July 2nd, 2010 - Pat Breen

Comments made by the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey during Question Time in Dail Eireann last week has prompted Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen to call on Minister Dempsey to undertake an immediate review of the Governments National Aviation Policy which is necessary Deputy Breen added “to address the regional imbalance and the lack of decision making powers which are crippling business development at Shannon Airport.”

“The lack of local decision making is strangling Shannon Airport. Management are effectively being asked to run the Airport with one hand tied before their backs and if this situation is allowed to continue it could have serious implications for the long-term sustainability of the Airport.”

“During question time with the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey last week when I raised the problems about the current management structure at Shannon Airport, the only solution Minister Dempsey could offer is to suggest that it should become an “independent company”.

”While it was wise in the changed economic circumstances to re-examine the entire separation of the three Airport’s the failure to put in a place proper management and governance structure in the interim has left Shannon in limbo and has given Dublin Airport all the aces.”

“The current Government Aviation policy is flawed as it takes no cognisance of the role played by Shannon Airport in balanced regional development. What is required now is for Minister Dempsey to review the mandate given to the DAA and to prioritise key objectives for the development of the Aviation industry in Ireland. These objectives would include strategies for the development of Shannon Airport and its role in supporting economic development in the Mid-West Region.”

“Minister Dempsey indicated last week that he intends to return to the issues of the Airports separation next year, however, in the meantime, Shannon Airport is being hamstrung by the lack of decision making power. Historically, the Airport has performed best when Shannon had strong local control over its own business development and this led to the many firsts achieved at Shannon Airport under the leadership of people like the late Brendan Oregano RIP, Liam Skelly and Michael Guerin. The first Duty Free in the world, the home of Irish Coffee and the birth of Aer Rianta International point to the pioneering and innovative thinking which has seen Shannon Airport survive many threats and overcome many obstacles including the abolition of Duty Free and the introduction of Open Skies down through the years.”

“Minister Dempsey said last week that “A subsidiary company cannot be able to spend moneys belonging to its parent company unless it is prepared to take responsibility. The structure is not in place in the Dublin Airport Authority for this.” This is the very kernel of the problem and Minister Dempsey has the power to do something about it and put the structure in place.”

“I have consistently argued against appointing the Dublin Airport Authority as judge and jury in divesting the assets to Cork and Shannon Airports when the State Airports Bill 2004 was first enacted”

“In my view irrespective of whether Shannon Airport remains in the DAA family or not; a review of the Governments National Aviation policy is required so that Shannon Airport’s role as a key economic driver here in the Region is recognised. Key infrastructural projects which are in the long term interest of Shannon and the Region will continue to be put on the long finger while this role continues to be ignored by National Aviation Policy. The Lynx Cargo Project would have received the green light along time ago in my view if Shannon Airport management were in control”.

“Instead of making comments that he is “agnostic” when it comes to this matter, Minister Dempsey should order this review and put in place the structure necessary recognising Shannon’s key role in Regional Economical Development, failure to do so will see Shannon Airport to continue to operate in limbo and could threaten Shannon Airport’s long-term viability.”