Mary Considine, CEO of the Shannon Airport Group last week described the strong recovery at Shannon Airport as having exceeded expectations. The Group welcomed over 1.51 million passengers to the airport in 2022, a 300% increase on 2021 figures, and an 88% recovery of 2019 passenger levels.
“The accelerated pace of the rebound in air travel from Shannon has exceeded our expectations and shows the pent-up desire for international travel following the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions,” said Ms. Considine.
European services recovered strongly in 2022 with over 532,000 passengers travelling through Shannon. This surpassed 2019 pre-pandemic levels by 7% and was a 225% increase on 2021. Shannon recorded over 638,000 passengers on its UK services in 2022, a 309% increase on the previous year.
After an absence of almost two years, transatlantic services returned in March ’22 and saw a strong rebound of almost 240,000 passengers on services to New York (JFK), Boston and Newark. A further boost is expected from May ’23 when a new daily nonstop seasonal service to Chicago commences.
“The airport was included in the Regional Airports Programme for the first time during the Pandemic and allowed us to undertake critical safety and security projects. We are grateful to Government for including us in this programme. The work we did with these funds shows just how important it is for Shannon to remain in the programme as we rebuild in the aftermath of Covid.
“The introduction of our new, faster, airport security screening facility, continued to have a positive impact in 2022. The new system eliminates the 100ml only rule, halving the time spent going through security screening. We have seen an increase in people from all over the country using Shannon Airport, as they now realise how easy it is,” said Ms. Considine.
Commenting on the outlook for this year, she added “Prospects at Shannon look bright for 2023 and this year we will operate 35 routes. Last year we secured four new services to Barcelona/Girona, Marseille, Malta, and a service to Paris with new airline partner, Vueling. We are delighted to be giving our customers more destinations to choose from, in fact we will have more routes this year than we did in 2019, with six brand new destinations. These six new services are to Naples, Beziers, Newcastle, Porto, Liverpool, while our transatlantic services will be enhanced with the with addition of Chicago.
“These new services, combined with initiatives like Ryanair’s €10 million investment in their maintenance facility at Shannon, and the delivery of our property investment strategy across the Shannon Campus, have cemented the upward trajectory of our recovery.”
On the tourism side, considerable work was undertaken by the Shannon Airport Group and Clare County Council on the transfer of the Shannon Heritage visitor site to the Council. Discussions are ongoing. Shannon Heritage sites performed strongly in 2022 with visitor numbers back to 80% of pre-pandemic levels as a result of the resumption of international travel.
Speaking about the company’s new sustainability strategy, Ms. Considine said: “At the Shannon Airport Group, we know that our activities and our airport operation in particular are important to our community and stakeholders. They provide a key engine that fuels economic wellbeing for our region and beyond.
“Embedding sustainability was a key focus for the Group in 2022 and we delivered a number of programmes, from employee wellbeing and CSR to energy saving, carbon reduction and recycling initiatives. We are proud to have become the first WHO designated Age Friendly airport in the world, along with Ireland West airport (Knock).
“We are committed to working with industry partners on creating a more sustainable future and last year we signed an MoU with the ESB to explore the development of a sustainable green hydrogen plant at Shannon.
“When the airport performs well, so too does the regional economy. We are committed to working with our partners to explore all opportunities to make our region a place where people will want to live, work, learn and visit.”