With the publication of a new Economic Impact Report, Shannon Group PLC has delivered a new pitch to Government calling for the introduction of policy initiatives that will distribute air traffic to the regions; reallocate tourism funding to support regional market access; and enable Ireland to become a global leader in aerospace and aviation services sector, with Shannon at the heart of this endeavour.
According to the report, produced by W2 Consulting, the Shannon Group generates €3.6 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Midwest region each year, supporting 46,000 jobs and contributing €1.1bn in tax revenue to the exchequer.
Shannon Group chairperson Rose Hynes says the report will help to maximise its contribution in the future, particularly in the context of the Government’s National Planning Framework which aims to deliver balanced economic development across Ireland until 2040.
Ms Hynes said the Group has, “a clear and ambitious strategy” which includes enhancing connectivity at Shannon Airport “as the primary catalyst for economic growth in the West of Ireland”.
She believes the “Shannon Group is poised to have an even greater impact on the economic development of our country” and said “the successful delivery of our 5-year strategic plan will see the annual economic impact of Shannon Group increase to €4.2 billion in GVA in 2021, contributing €1.3 billion in tax revenue to the exchequer and supporting 54,000 jobs.”
It appears however that this is contingent on Government policy initiatives which Ms Hynes anticipates “will create an environment for economic growth in the regions, and acknowledges Shannon’s essential role in enabling and driving that growth.”
The report credits the Shannon Group with providing the economic infrastructure that is a critical catalyst for economic growth in the region.
Of its three integral parts, Shannon Airport plays a critical role in facilitating growth as 40% of US companies are located within its catchment. The airport is also a base for the International Aviation Services Centre, the largest aviation and aerospace cluster in the country.
Shannon Commercial Properties (SCP) owns and manages seven business and technology parks, more than 245 buildings and 1,600 acres of land in 40 locations.
Finally, Shannon Heritage is the country’s leading operator of commercial tourism attractions, in 2016 905,000 visitors passed through the facilities.
According to the report, the growth of air traffic directly correlates with the upward growth in tourist numbers and FDI investment.
Last year Shannon Airport had 1.75 million passengers through its doors, compared to 27.8m in Dublin and 2.3m in Cork.
A response to a parliamentary question from Niall Collins TD shows that Shannon now ranks third in Ireland regarding passenger numbers.
Ostensibly, it appears that Shannon may have poked the bear when it set out on a path to independence which sees it competing directly with the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).
Despite the fact that Ireland is experiencing an unprecedented tourism boom, Shannon’s share of the lucrative air passenger market has fallen to just 5%. Cork is on 6.6% and Dublin has 85.1% of the market.
Until 2007 Shannon had ranked in second place but it has lost 8% since 2005 when it held 12.9% of the Irish market. Apart from a slight 0.6% increase after becoming independent of the DAA in 2013, Shannon has shown a decrease each year since then.
Meanwhile, Dublin Airport continues to gear for expansion with plans to construct a new north runway by 2021 and the prospect of building a third terminal.
As Dublin continues to grow and increase its passenger share by almost 1% per annum, it is on course to dominate the air passenger market in the near future. It is vital that Government takes the lead on this issue with policies that promote balanced regional development.