About 2,000 acres of land around Shannon Airport has been zoned to accommodate an international aviation services hub, in advance of it becoming an independent airport at the end of the year.

It is the first time since the town was established in the 1960s that a stand-alone town and environs plan has been outlined for Shannon.

The aim of the plan is to see a thriving international airport by 2018, and the land surrounding the airport has been zoned specifically in anticipation of new aviation services locating there.

Shannon Mayor Michael Fleming described the launch of the new plan as a “unique blueprint” for the future economic and social development of the area.

Having an adjoining land bank that can accommodate new industries associated with aviation is seen as crucial to the commercial success of a new independent airport.

Last week, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar announced that Shannon Airport would finally be separated from the Dublin Airport Authority on 31 December.

It will then be free to make its own commercial decisions about expanding airline services, and attracting new airline and air engineering businesses.

Meanwhile, Rose Hynes of the Shannon Aviation Business Development Task Force, which is overseeing the separation process, said Shannon Airport being free of its three-airport regime will make a big difference.

Ms Hynes said she was confident that Shannon could stand alone and could soon start making a profit.