The recently launched national aviation policy, which incorporates many of the recommendations put forward by Shannon Chamber during the Issues Paper consultative process, has earmarked Shannon as a key contributor to the future development of the sector in Ireland.
Most notably, the policy recommends that Shannon:
- should be assisted and encouraged to increase general aviation pre-clearance
- be fully supported in the development of the International Aviation Services Centre
- be designated as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for Business Aviation with a new aviation and aerospace Skillnet used as a vehicle for providing aviation training
- be mandated to develop and publish a strategy on air-cargo, and fully supported in its undertakings to develop an air-cargo hub
Welcoming these recommendations, Shannon Chamber’s chief executive Helen Downes said: “It is most encouraging to note that many of the issues we addressed in our submission to the draft national aviation policy have been acknowledged, many of which were proffered by our members.
“Shannon’s association with aviation is long-standing and, while Shannon’s separation from the DAA has given the airport, and aviation in general, a new impetus, changes in a number of areas could yield even greater returns.
“While the new policy has recommended that Shannon increase its general aviation pre-clearance, little reference has been given to the possibility of removing anomalies, such as curtailed opening hours, which might currently serve as a hindrance. Business jets may not conform to the current pre-clearance opening hours that exist for passenger flights and Shannon Chamber believes a change of this nature would be most beneficial.
“The policy states that Dublin Airport is to be developed as a secondary hub, with Shannon and Cork supported in their efforts to develop as key ‘niche’ airports. Shannon Chamber would hope that Shannon will also be in a position to identify and target long-haul airlines services opportunities for Shannon, to also enable it become a hub for traffic between Europe and the US. Our submission reiterated the point that Shannon Airport is also an important hub for connecting traffic.
“Access to Shannon Airport is also an ongoing issue that concerns chamber members, and in this regard, we are disappointed to note that there are no plans for major, new public access infrastructure in relation to Shannon. While it is encouraging to note that work has commenced on the Gort to Tuam (N17/18) motorway, it is equally important that issues concerning the inadequacy of the infrastructure connecting Limerick to Cork (extension of the M20) and Limerick to Foynes Port (access from N69 to M20/M7) be addressed.
“Shannon Chamber would hope that access to Shannon Airport and Foynes Port, as major infrastructural assets, will be given priority consideration during the development of surface transport programmes, in line with the Government’s Strategic Framework for Investment in Land Transport, which proposed the ‘prioritisation of improved connections to key seaports and airports.
“The aviation sector is a major contributor to the region’s economy; Shannon Chamber is committed to playing its part in ensuring the sector can develop and grow, and is positively disposed towards working closely with, and inputting to, the National Aviation Development Forum, when established,” added Ms Downes.
The National Aviation Policy can be downloaded here.