The Government has announced plans to separate Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority, and bring it together with Shannon Development into a single entity.

The new body will have a commercial mandate in public ownership.

The tourism and enterprise support agencies in the region will also be restructured to support the new arrangement.

This is according to a statement from the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The statement from the Ministers said the new entity will have a clear mandate, working closely with IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to develop the potential of the aviation sector, and will explore other opportunities with those agencies for further prospective investments in the region.

Shannon Development's functions in relation to indigenous enterprise and foreign direct investment will transfer to Enterprise Ireland and IDA respectively. A plan for the delivery of enterprise supports in the region will be developed. The tourism functions of Shannon Development will transfer to Fáilte Ireland.

''This is a significant step in developing the aviation sector in Ireland and securing the future of Shannon airport. It heralds a new era for the Shannon region,'' commented Minister Varadkar.

''We want to recapture the pioneering spirit of the people who gave us the airport and the Shannon Free Zone concept, so that we can provide exciting and innovative opportunities which benefit business, tourism, and job creation in the region, and across the country,'' he added.

''By combining, into a new entity, a strong, independent Shannon airport authority with the extensive property holdings, expertise and experience of Shannon Development, we can focus the State’s resources on developing a strong aviation industry in the area,'' commented Minister Bruton.

It is expected the move will be welcomed by businesses and industrial interests in the Mid West, who believe that independence from the DAA is in the best interests of the future viability of Shannon Airport.

In relation to Cork airport, the Government has decided that the existing ownership of the airport by the DAA will be maintained for the present. The DAA will be renamed to reflect the fact that there are now two airports and international businesses in the group structure.