Shannon Airport operator Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine has said that Shannon Group is seeing signs of recovery as Shannon Airport gears up for a busy summer.
The group has also been putting the necessary steps in place to accelerate the next phase of its investment at its Shannon Campus with €30 million already planned for projects starting in 2022. Considine's comments came following the publication of Shannon Group's 2021 annual report.
Positivity At The Airport As Key Air Services Restored
"After two hard years, we are finally seeing the clouds part as we work our way through the post-pandemic era. Central to this has been the restoration of our year-round London Heathrow service -providing 20 flights per week, a range of European air services, and flights to the United States. In March, we welcomed the return of our Aer Lingus daily year-round services to New York (JFK) and Boston, along with United Airlines' daily seasonal service to Newark.
"We are the only airport on the west coast of Ireland offering transatlantic services, as well as providing full US pre-clearance to commercial passengers and private jets. We are pleased that we have secured services to 26 destinations in 11 countries from Shannon for our passengers this summer, with more Ryanair services this year compared to 2019, " Considine said,
Passenger numbers at Shannon Airport increased by 8% in 2021, with almost 380,000 passengers using the airport last year, compared to just over 352,000 in 2020. However, this is still down 78% on 2019 passenger numbers.
"While there is still a significant journey ahead of us, and full recovery is some way off yet, our business strategy, which initially focused on survival, is now firmly in the recovery and rebuilding phase," Considine said.
Improved Financial Performance
Shannon Group delivered an improved financial performance in 2021, with an increase of 18% in turnover to €40.5 million compared to €34.3 million in 2020, while EBITDA before exceptional items increased to €8.6 million compared to €1.2 million in 2020.
"We are grateful for the Government supports we received during 2021, including the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, the waiver of commercial rates and funding received under the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme which were very important in supporting our business through the worst impacts of the pandemic," Considine said,
Investing In The Future At The Shannon Campus
Since Shannon Group's establishment in 2014, almost €146 million has been invested in the enhancement of Shannon Airport facilities and the provision of property solutions across Shannon Group, providing attractive locations for both FDI and indigenous companies. Over €60 million of this investment took place between 2019 and 2021, and property development activity and performance remained strong in 2021.
Commenting on this investment, Considine said: , "During the period of severe travel restrictions on aviation, we took the opportunity to continue our investment strategy across our Shannon Campus, and vital funding was secured from government to undertake an ambitious capital programme at the airport. This included 'future-proofing' key elements of airport infrastructure, including a new and significantly enhanced hold baggage screening facility. The airport has taken further steps to improve the passenger experience during this time.
"The installation of a new state-of-the-art security system allowed Shannon to become the first state airport to remove the 100ml restriction on liquid containers in hand baggage. The introduction of this new technology has halved the security screening time for passengers. These and other investments have contributed to an even smoother and more pleasant passenger journey through the airport."
Commenting on the group's latest investment strategy, Considine said, "We are putting the necessary steps in place to facilitate the next stage of our investment programme. This will see an investment of approximately €30 million in new building and airport upgrade projects across the Shannon Campus, starting in 2022. Planned investments include upgrading and refurbishing of bays 135/137 complex in the Shannon Free Zone, the construction of a new 60,000 sq ft multi-unit warehousing development, and construction of a 40,000 sq ft high-bay research and development unit, all located within the Shannon Campus. Airport infrastructure projects for 2022 include continued investment in airfield rehabilitation and new passenger airbridges.
"In addition, activity supporting the generation of a pipeline of new projects for the coming years will continue to be a key part of Shannon Group's strategic development plans," Considine said.
"At Shannon Group we are committed to fostering a culture of innovation across the Shannon Campus. This is why we are one of the partners supporting the exciting work of Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) in providing a unique real-world setting at the Shannon Campus to research and develop the next generation in automotive technology. During 2021, FMCI expanded its land-based operation to include research in future air mobility, and a consortium including Shannon Group worked on innovative plans to establish Ireland’s first air mobility research hub," Considine said.
Transfer Of Shannon Heritage Sites Progressing
Significant progress was made during the year on the transfer of the group's heritage sites to the relevant local authorities. The transfer of these activities will assist Shannon Group to focus on the recovery of the airport, build back international passengers, while continuing to develop its aviation cluster and associated property activities. King John's Castle in Limerick has now transferred to Limerick City & County Council, and the transfer of Shannon Heritage attractions in Co. Clare to Clare County Council is progressing.
Confident for the Future
"While 2022 will still be a challenging year, and there is still a considerable journey ahead of us, we are committed to maximising all opportunities to build back stronger," Considine concluded.
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