Shannon Airport will see the first decline in growth this year, since it separated from Dublin Airport Authority, as a result of the global grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets following two fatal crashes.

The airport has lost 13 weekly transatlantic services with 120,000 seats that were due to be provided by Norwegian Air International and Air Canada.

"That's not only having a significant impact on airport passengers but also in the region because that business is estimated to be worth about €60 million in tourism spend to this region," said Mary Considine, acting CEO of Shannon Group.

But the chief executive is confident that those routes will return next year, when the Boeing 737s return to the skies.

"We are in constant communication with both airlines and we do hope to see these services return in 2020 once the aircraft are certified to fly again."

Shannon continues to be the only airport outside of Dublin with flights to the US through Boston, JFK, Newark and Philadelphia.

The dominance of Dublin Airport is also posing a real challenge to Shannon Airport.

"That's why we are working closely with a range of stake holders and with Government to ensure there is a rebalancing of the economy," Ms Considine said.

"Airports are key drivers of economic growth and the connectivity provided by Shannon Airport will be a key enabler in realising the Government's own ambition under Ireland 2040 to deliver 75% of population growth outside the greater Dublin region," she added.

Airlines choose what airports they operate to and from, and Ms Considine says there are a range of factors as to why airlines are not choosing Shannon.

"We need to create demand, and we need to create the supports. If you look back, supports for this region led to the establishment of the airport in the first instance, then subsequently the Shannon Free Zone and the growth of the hospitality sector in the west of Ireland. That stimulated economic development in rural Ireland when it was badly needed. The same is true today," she stated.

She said it is important that tourism bodies like Tourism Ireland put targetted supports in place, to drive tourists and growth in the regions. She also called for capital support for safety infrastructure, "because all of those things will help deliver sustainable connectivity from the regions".

This is important now more than ever when we're talking about Brexit and as businesses are being asked to diversify their markets to look to establishing stronger trade links with Europe.

The Shannon Group boss said connectivity with Europe will be vital for business. "We need connectivity into central Europe from the West of Ireland. We need all stakeholders to work with us to deliver that," she added.