Shannon Airport is to get a new owner in a bid to boost business at the Transatlantic hub.
The Irish government has announced new plans to split the County Clare airport from its Dublin bosses.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar and Minister for Enterprise Richard Bruton have announced that the Dublin Airport Authority will no longer oversee operations at Shannon.
Instead Shannon Airport and Shannon Development will be merged to form a new entity with a commercial mandate.
All Shannon Development functions in relation to indigenous enterprise and foreign direct investment will now transfer to state bodies Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) respectively.
All Shannon Development tourism functions, including Regional Tourism Offices, will transfer to Fáilte Ireland.
The new entity will continue to support the property needs of IDA and Enterprise Ireland clients according to a report in the Irish Times.
A steering group will be established to determine the most effective organisational structure of the new entity and develop an implementation strategy.
Plans include a feasibility study on creating an international aviation ‘centre of excellence’ at Shannon.
“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,” said Minister Varadkar.
“We want to recapture the pioneering spirit of the people who gave us the airport and the Shannon free zone concept. Our task now is to develop these proposals in more detail.”
Bruton told the paper that the announcement represents a new start for jobs and enterprise in the Shannon region.
“Today’s announcement is an important start, but more work remains to be done to deliver on the potential of this proposal and we will press forward immediately with the necessary work,” he said.
Passenger numbers at Shannon declined by 6 per cent last year.
The Shannon Development authority has welcomed the announcement.
A statement said: “There is still a lot of detail to be worked out around the new structure and operation of the new entity, but today’s announcement is undoubtedly a major step towards creating a new entity which will act as a catalyst for growth for the wider region in the years to come.”
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary however has criticised the decision not to sell Shannon Airport. A
Ryanair statement claimed: “There will be no real change or reform nor radical cost reduction or efficiencies.”