A bumper Christmas, with an anticipated 15 per cent increase in passenger numbers from 12 months ago, kicked off at Shannon Airport this weekend as close on 2,000 children and parents got to meet Santa in the skies.
In an initiative to thank the public for its support over what has been a year of strong growth, as well as raise some much needed funds for two local charities, Shannon Airport, in partnership with Ryanair, made Christmas come early for the excited children as 12 flights took the skies over Saturday and Sunday.
Among those getting to savour this special moment were special needs children from the Clare Crusaders clinic, St Gabriel’s school in Limerick and Mirmear Autism Unit in Tipperary. Demand for the ‘free flights’, the €10 booking fee for which goes to charity, was so high that they booked out in all of 12 minutes when they went up for grabs.
The fun weekend at the airport, which also saw the children get to enjoy a wide range of entertainment from costumed cartoon characters to puppet shows, heightened the Christmas cheer at the airport, which is readying itself for its busiest festive season since 2009 as 51,000 passengers are expected to fly to and from Shannon from this coming Friday until early January. The airport has been festooned with decorations to welcome passengers.
Neil Pakey, Chief Executive, said: “We have had a fantastic start to our Christmas period, with thousands of happy children and parents. It was great to see children from right across the country, including Limerick, enjoying the treat. Santa has proved to be an even bigger draw when he can be met 15,000 feet above sea level. The excitement was unbelievable and we are delighted to have partnered with Ryanair on what was a really special occasion.
“The Santa flights were only made possible by the support of our staff, many of whom kindly volunteered to come in on their weekend off to support this charity initiative. Great praise is also due to our many other volunteers and elves who made the event a truly magical experience.
“It is a going to be a great Christmas here at Shannon. We expect passenger numbers to be up by 15% up on last year’s figures for the same period. It’s a great time to be at an airport as whether passengers are outbound or inbound, there’s typically a homecoming happening and that creates a magical mood.”