Shannon Airport will become independent of DAA

Sunday 30 December 2012 22.56
Two former directors of Shannon have called on the Government to allow Shannon to hold onto the profitable Aer Rianta International
Two former directors of Shannon have called on the Government to allow Shannon to hold onto the profitable Aer Rianta International

Shannon Airport will become independent of the Dublin Airport Authority on New Year's Eve.

There have been calls to allow the airport hold onto Aer Rianta International, the profitable company that runs Duty Free shops worldwide.

The world's first duty free shop was opened at Shannon more than sixty years ago.

Over its long history, one of its most successful business innovations has been Aer Rianta International, founded in Shannon in 1988 on the back of its experience in Duty Free.

It set up Moscow Duty Free and has since set up successful Duty Free shops all over the world.

It has had multi-million profits since 1988 but has been part of the DAA since all State airports went under their umbrella in 2004.

A number of former directors at Shannon, who helped establish and build ARI believe it should come back to its original home where its profits could help fund investment at the new independent airport.

Former Financial Manager at Shannon Airport, Michael Hanrahan said: “The cash flows from ARI would have been more than adequate to finance any capital projects they may have in the future, and it would fund a very strong marketing campaign. It really needs finance now to support it.”

Former Director General at ARI Liam Skelly said: “Aer Rianta International is a Shannon born and bred operation. If Shannon still had ARI, they would now have €450 million of accumulated profits; they would be trying to spend it wisely; trying to attract traffic into Shannon which it deserves to get, as the West of Ireland does.”

Earlier this year, Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that Shannon could not be burdened with the borrowings ARI will need to grow its business in the future.

It is also starting free of €100 million of debt and will get an estimated €13 million in rent from Shannon Development properties.

Aviation Business Development Taskforce Chairperson Rose Hynes said: “Shannon Airport in separation will be debt-free; that’s a major boost. Without having the debt hanging over it, Shannon can start to make a profit.

“Shannon will also be receiving the rent-roll of Shannon Development. There is no silver bullet for Shannon, it’s just developing a whole range of opportunities," Ms Hynes said.

“I see it as a real opportunity the fact that we are separating, not otherwise.”