SHANNON Airport must be “freed from the dead hand of the Dublin Airport Authority” and sold by the State to the highest bidder, Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary has told The Clare People in outlining his blueprint for the survival of the former hub of the aviation world as an airport of international standing.
O’Leary’s radical proposal to sell Shannon to secure its future came as he launched a new bid to generate much needed business at the airport that has been in passenger freefall over the past two years after Ryanair slashed its operations for a peak of 53 routes down to its current status of three.
In pledging to provide an extra million passengers to the airport over the next ﬁve years if granted a growth incentive scheme similar to the one ac- corded to Aer Lingus in Dublin, Mr O’Leary has challenged the incoming government to ﬁnally grant Shannon its independence by selling it.
“There is going to be much more radical solutions under the next government,” said O’Leary “and I strongly believe that one of the ﬁrst State assets that should be sold should be Cork and Shannon Airports to non DAA ownership that would be committed to growing trafﬁc.
“Seamus Brennan tried to give Shannon its independence but he was shafted by Bertie and the unions. It would be a very brave politican, particularly if it were a coalition government involving Labour that would come up with a plan to give Shannon its independence and upset Brother Beggs and Brother O’Connor.
“But Shannon should be sold debt free. The debts should stay with Dub- lin and I say that as Dublin’s biggest customer, so I’ll probably be still paying off the debt. The only way forward for trafﬁc growth, for jobs and for tourism in Shannon and Cork is to free them from the DAA.
“One airline has demonstrated the ability to grow trafﬁc at Shannon – that’s Ryanair. No one can take away from the fact that over the last ﬁve years we were operating over 50 routes to and from Shannon.
“There was a buzz about the place; there was trafﬁc growth; we were working closely with what started off as the independent board of Shannon under Pat Shanahan and Tadhg Kearney. Shannon isn’t independent anymore and the best way to give it its independence would be to sell it,” added Mr O’Leary.