Newly independent Shannon Airport is aiming to revive its network across short-haul, non-European and networks services. This happens right after the airport cut its first deal with Ryanair for new routes since the Government established the independent airport.
Since its separation from the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) was announced in 2012, Shannon Airport has won new routes to Chicago, Glasgow, Alicante, Faro, and Philadelphia.
Despite those new routes, the airport continues to aggressively target network expansion across several markets, said Rose Hynes, chairman of the airport’s board: “There is significant demand for additional services at Shannon and our job is to work as hard and as competitively as we can to ensure we deliver those”.
Shannon may now be on the radar for Middle East-based carriers such as Turkish Airlines and Qatar, said an aviation analyst familiar with the market: “While Emirates and Ethiad are in Dublin already – and have no need for a second Irish point – another carrier from the region going to Shannon could hoover up the eastbound Ireland market without any competition”, said the analyst.
As Shannon Airport plans on raising passenger numbers from 1.4 million in 2013 to 2.5 million within 5 years, it will prioritize short-haul travel from the continent to hit that target.
In fact, before being integrated into the DAA, Shannon Airport used to host many German summertime charter services, which were progressively replaced by scheduled capacity, mostly to Dublin.
Shannon’s location in the West of Ireland – second only to Dublin as a tourism hotspot – could now draw new services in tune with the growing trend for shorter breaks. “Local access is becoming more and more important”, said the analyst.
However, Shannon Airport could also be in the running for a network carrier connection to a European hub such as Paris, Amsterdam, or Frankfurt. In its US routes, the airport can keep on leveraging its provision of US customs and immigration, said Hynes.
This allows US-bound travelers to clear US formalities quickly in Shannon and arrive in the US as domestic passengers, avoiding queues and even allowing international airlines to serve US domestic airports.
“US preclearance is a great selling point for us. From Shannon we already serve four US points – New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia – and we’re talking to other airlines about short-haul services which as well as meeting local demand can provide connectivity to our transatlantic flights and give passengers the benefits of preclearance”, added Hynes.
She also said that non-European long-haul airlines are also approaching Shannon Airport to use Ireland’s relatively liberal fifth-freedom regime to carry passengers and cargo between Shannon and points in the United States, Canada, and Latin America.
Separating from the DAA now gives Shannon the opportunity to tailor agreements to rapidly convert such interest into deals, said Declan Power, the airport’s senior manager for aviation business development. “Shannon’s independence allows us to structure deals to better match airline expectations, for both scheduled and charter traffic”, he told.
The Irish Government decided to make Shannon Airport independent from the DAA in 2012. Since then, the airport’s new routes are to Chicago with United Airlines, to Philadelphia with US Airways, to Faro with Aer Lingus, to Glasgow with Flybe, and to Alicante with Ryanair.