Shannon Airport has delivered on its pledge to achieve significant passenger growth in its second year as an independent entity, with end-of-year figures for 2014 showing a 17 per cent increase on 2013.
In 2013 following separation the airport ended five successive years of decline and in 2014 delivered significant growth, with passenger numbers increasing from 1,400,032 to 1,639,315.
The growth was achieved on the back of 10 new destinations and 16 service enhancements overall in 2014. The biggest growth market was in European services, where nine new destinations delivered a 70% increase (from 251,813 to 427,887). While these included a number of popular sun destinations that return for 2015, growth on European services also drew high numbers of inbound visitors, thanks to the return of links to Germany (Munich and Berlin) as well new French (Paris and Poitiers) services – markets with traditionally a strong demand for the unique West of Ireland tourism product.
There was also strong growth (10%) across the airport’s five US services (Boston, Chicago, New York JFK, Newark, and Philadelphia), building on the increase achieved in the second half of 2013 when the airport enjoyed a 22% uplift in transatlantic passengers.
Shannon’s largest overall market, the UK, continued to recover, achieving a 5% increase in 2014.
The year finished on another monthly high in December with a 7% increase on passenger numbers compared with December 2013. This included a 165% increase on European services.
Airport of Choice
Neil Pakey, Shannon Group Chief Executive, said that the role of the airlines and the response of the market was key. “Our success, in just our first year as an independent entity, in ending five years of successive decline in passenger numbers in 2013 gave airlines the confidence to come in with a range of new services in 2014. The market responded accordingly with passengers returning to Shannon as their airport of choice for access in and out of this region for business and tourism.
“We remain focussed on supporting our airlines by helping them to grow passenger numbers in 2015. We accept that the market has the capacity to throw up challenges and, to that end, we are closely monitoring events around the potential acquisition of Aer Lingus and implications that may have on Heathrow slots.
“Shannon is the only airport on the western seaboard with connectivity to Heathrow, which gives businesses across the Mid-West and West the one-stop connectivity needed to access key markets across the world. The consequences for the region of the withdrawal of Heathrow services in 2007 showed how essential they are and everything needs to be done to make sure history is not allowed to repeat itself.
“Our target was for double-digit growth and getting that up to 17% was very satisfying. Having more people from our catchment choosing to fly from here has been the most pleasing aspect of all. A big difference also was the opportunity for Shannon to emerge as the key access point for air travel for the Wild Atlantic Way, which had a very successful launch year in 2014 and is set to be a hugely successful project for Irish tourism in the years ahead.”
Key Economic Driver
Rose Hynes, Shannon Group Chairman, added: “We are really pleased to have achieved significant growth in 2014. Shannon Airport, in providing daily access to the USA, UK and Europe, is a key economic driver for a region that stretches from the south up to the north-west. Our passenger numbers in 2014 have had a direct material impact on this region’s economy, with benefits for all our stakeholders.
“There are a number of factors that made this possible, not least Shannon’s ability to attract new services, the airlines’ confidence in Shannon, the Government facilitating this by removing the Air Travel Tax, and the global and local economic recovery starting to take hold. Now that we have built up strong momentum, we will use 2015 to further embed our new services and will continue to grow the overall passenger numbers.”