Shannon Airport celebrated the beginning of a new era on 1st January 2013 as it officially became an independent entity overnight. Separation officially took place at 23.59 on Monday night, with the first passengers to transit through the newly autonomous airport arriving on board the Aer Lingus EI110 flight from New York JFK at 05.08 Tuesday morning. The airport commences operations on a solid footing by way of a debt-free balance sheet and a business plan with an immediate focus on increasing passenger numbers and route development.
The airport will also work towards the development of the International Aviation Services Centre at Shannon, which is targeting the creation of a significant number of primarily aviation related jobs within a three-to-five year period, building on the existing cluster of 40 aviation related companies in Shannon currently.
The second of a two-phase process for the new Shannon Airport entity will see the merging of the airport by 1st July 2013 with activities of a restructured Shannon Development, including its considerable land-bank and associated rent-roll.
Newly appointed Shannon Airport Authority Chairman Rose Hynes said: “Today is ‘Independence Day’ for Shannon – this is a historic day for us. We finally have our long-awaited freedom to determine our own future. Independence is the single most important enabler of future success for Shannon. This is an opportunity for the airport to commence a new chapter in its proud history.”
Also welcoming autonomy, Shannon Airport Director Mary Considine said: “We are setting out today to create a vibrant and sustainable future for this airport, its staff, customers and the wider region. Our attention will immediately focus on growing passenger numbers at Shannon. We have an excellent start thanks to significant announcements on transatlantic and European services over the past two months, which will already result in an appreciable upswing in passenger numbers next year.”
Passengers arriving on the day were served refreshments and commissioned cupcakes for the day carrying the theme for separation: ‘Just Think How Far We Can Go’. Also, to mark the official separation day, one lucky passenger, Dervilla Donohoe from Rosehill, Sligo, who was onboard the first flight, received two return Aer Lingus tickets to the USA from Shannon courtesy of the airline, plus complimentary car parking and access to the airport’s executive lounge.