“Getting new routes into Shannon is a welcome development but is but one part of the equation,” said Shannon Chamber’s chief executive Helen Downes addressing a Chamber-hosted business breakfast at Dromoland Castle Hotel today at which Ryanair’s chief operating officer and deputy chief executive, Michael Cawley, was the keynote speaker.
“In operating 9 new routes at Shannon from April, Ryanair is providing a pipeline of seats which need to be filled; it’s now up to the tourism and business sectors, and the general public, to take responsibility for filling those seats, and showing their commitment to Shannon,” Downes said.
The breakfast briefing, hosted by Shannon Chamber and sponsored by Shannon Airport and Shannon Heritage was attended by Chamber members and their business associates.
In Shannon today, Ryanair’s Michael Cawley said: “As Ireland’s favourite airline, Ryanair is committed to growing traffic, routes and jobs at Shannon and we are pleased to deliver 9 new routes this summer and 300,000 additional passengers, which will support 300 new on-site jobs at Shannon Airport. This growth is in direct response to the Government’s welcome decision to scrap the €3 air travel tax from April and we look forward to further growth at Shannon.”
Some Chamber members shared their feedback on the effect of the Ryanair announcement for Shannon. Shannon-based Ei Electronics, a €100m business, sustaining 500 jobs with 90% of its business in the UK, Germany and France welcomes the Memmingen and Paris Beauvais routes, which offer connectivity to its key markets. However, when considering future route development at Shannon, Ei believes the revival of the Dusseldorf-Weeze route would offer companies, like Ei, valuable connectivity to North-West Germany and the Netherlands.
Limerick’s Absolute Hotel has already witnessed the knock-on effect of Ryanair opening new routes into Europe. Occupancy rates at the hotel have increased 10% in the first quarter of 2014, with February and March particularly strong. Ryanair flights contribute to the leisure weekend market and to a healthy performance in the mid-week corporate sector.
Munster Rugby has also seen an increase in footfall in the stadium and says that planned routes such as Paris will make it easier for away-fans to travel to the stadium.
Increased European flights into Shannon has helped Thomond Park Stadium secure at least two large events for 2014, including the 2014 Sports Tourism European Summit, which will see delegates come
in from many parts of Europe. The stadium will be promoting the new access routes into Shannon in its endeavours to attract more international business, as the lack of access to the Shannon region has been instrumental in most international and Association business currently going to Dublin.
Acknowledging the very forthcoming feedback from members, Downes cautioned that customer service and considerate conditions for the business traveller was also cited as a pre-requisite for encouraging more businesses to fly Ryanair.
“Ryanair needs to be seen as an attractive carrier by both the leisure and business traveller. The re-invention of Ryanair as a customer-focused airline may help to redress any negative perceptions about the company among the business community,” added Downes. Urging all Chamber members and their wider business and personal circles to act as ambassadors for Shannon Airport, Downes said: “We simply have to make the new confidence evident at Shannon generate extraordinary results.”