Shannon’s pivotal place in national aviation reflected in 2019 awards wins at weekend

Shannon Group and Shannon based companies have soared again in the eyes of industry experts after claiming several awards at the Annual Aviation Awards 2019 at the weekend.

Held at the Clayton Hotel on Friday night, the awards are the benchmark for excellence for those demonstrating best practice and innovation in the aviation sector in Ireland.

The awards reflected again Shannon’s huge influence in Irish and international aviation, with two Shannon Group companies picking up awards and six other awards also deeply connected with Shannon. 

One of the Shannon Group awards went to the International Aviation Services Centre (IASC) – the largest aviation cluster in Ireland, with over 80 companies based in the Shannon Free Zone – for the Aviation Support Services.  The second was picked up by Shannon Duty Free as it was announced Airport Retailer award, validation for the significant investment in the historic outlet, which was the birthplace of airport duty free shopping globally, in 2018.

The Outstanding Contribution to the Aviation Industry award also reaffirmed Shannon’s global influence, with the recipient Colm McLoughlin, CEO of Dubai Duty Free, a former Assistant Manager at the Shannon Duty Free Outlet.  Now leading one of the world’s largest duty-free companies, Mr McLoughlin was a member of a Shannon Duty Free team that was invited to Dubai by the city’s rulers to help establish the now iconic Dubai Duty Free brand.

Other Shannon winners were the Atlantic Aviation Group, which won the People Development Award and AAV Aviation Services Training Shannon and LIT & CAE Parc Aviation, which won the Aviation Academic Education Award. 

The MRO Achievement Award went to Aero Aviation in Shannon, while the Upcoming Aviation Professional Award went to Owen Bagnall, Director of Operations at Aero Inspection.

Another link with Shannon was the Aviation Leasing Achievement Award, which went to Avolon, the leasing company founded by Clare man Dómhnal Slattery, its CEO and industry leader who started his career with Guinness Peat Aviation in Shannon.

Said Shannon Group Acting CEO Mary Considine: “These awards remind us yet again of the incredible role Shannon has had on aviation, not just in Ireland but globally. 

“Not alone did Shannon Group entities, Shannon Duty Free and IASC, win awards, but to have eight awards in total connected with what has been built up here over the years is a testament to the quality and calibre of the aviation companies based in Shannon. I would like to pay tribute to our staff who have worked hard to achieve this recognition and congratulate Colm Mc Loughlin on his outstanding contribution to the industry.  Last week we celebrated the 80th anniversary of the first commercial flight into Shannon and Friday night’s awards illustrated the remarkable aviation heritage we have, a heritage we continue to honour today and into the future.”

Shannon Group’s international airport, Shannon Airport is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the landing of the first passenger aircraft

“Shannon holds a historic and important place in the history of world aviation” – Mary Considine, Acting CEO, Shannon Group

Shannon Airport, a Shannon Group company, will on Thursday celebrate 80 years as the centre piece and driver of the regional economy as it marks the landing of its first passenger aircraft way back on July 11th, 1939.

Some 80 years ago to the day a Belgian airliner – tri-motor Sabena Davoia Marchetti S-73 – landed on the newly opened and then named Rineanna airfield and gave lift-off to what would soon after become known as Shannon Airport and an economic transformation of a region.

Fast forward the 80 years and Shannon Airport is today Ireland’s second-largest long-haul airport, the only one outside the capital offering direct flights to all key Irish markets – the UK, European mainland and US.

It plays a critical role in facilitating and driving economic growth, with over 40% of US FDI companies in Ireland within the airport’s catchment. 

Shannon Group’s economic impact sees it generate €3.6 billion in GVA for the Irish economy each year and contributes €1.15 billion annually in tax revenue to the Exchequer. Over 46,000 jobs are supported by the activities of Shannon Group.

All of this grew from what is by today’s standards a very modest arrival of eight passengers and crew on board the Belgian airliner but by 1930’s standards a moment of wonder in rural west of Ireland.

The passengers were greeted with cheers from the assembled staff of the fledgling airport before they were whisked to Foynes to board the Pan American’s ‘Yankee Clipper’ Boeing 314 flight bound for New York.

The news spread quickly of the presence of the Belgian airliner at Rineanna and by the time the crew returned later that night for their return trip, up to 500 people had gathered to watch its take-off on the return journey to Croydon in the south of England and then onto Brussels.

By 1942, a serviceable airport had been achieved and was named Shannon Airport. By 1945 the existing runways at Shannon were extended to allow transatlantic flights.

The world leading pioneering spirit of Shannon was further emboldened in 1947 with the establishment of the world’s first Duty Free shop. It began as a small kiosk staffed by one woman and grew into a multi-billion dollar global retail industry.

Today Shannon International Airport has the longest runway in Ireland at 3,200 metres and is the only Irish airport that can accommodate the world’s largest jet, the Antonov AN 225.  Other major milestones included it becoming, in 2009, the first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to provide full US Preclearance facilities, while in 2017, Shannon become the first airport in the world to open a sensory room for passengers with autism or special needs.

Shannon Group continues to invest in the airport, having completed a €45 million investment programme to enhance its customer offering. New and upgraded dining and shopping options are now available, as well as enhancements to the airport’s VIP lounges, transit and boarding gate areas.

Mary Considine, Acting CEO, Shannon Group said that celebrating the 80th anniversary cannot be passed without acknowledging all who worked across the decades to make Shannon such a pivotal asset for the region.

 “We are hugely proud of history here at Shannon, and our pioneering reputation is recognised and respected across the world of aviation.  Shannon Airport was the first European gateway for transatlantic flights and over the past eight decades we have welcomed every serving US President, royalty, famous actors and musicians along with tens of millions of international travellers.

“We are very proud of the place we have earned, through our commitment to innovation, in global aviation. Today we are remembering not just the 80 years but everyone who helped build this special airport and worked with pride and dedication across those decades to make it such a storied and central part of this region.

“Above all, we are an airport that is imbedded in our community, we would like to thank our customers for their loyalty and support over the years and ask them for their continued support in the years ahead, “said Ms. Considine.

Top Chinese government official leads delegation to ‘pioneering’ Shannon Free Zone

Tuesday 18th June 2019: Shannon’s long-standing ties with China have deepened with a visit by leading Chinese dignitaries.

Mr. You Quan, Head of China’s United Front Work Department together with His Excellency Mr. He Xiangdong, Chinese Ambassador to Ireland, met at Shannon Airport with Shannon Group Chairman, Rose Hynes, Shannon Group Acting CEO, Mary Considine, and Andrew Murphy, Managing Director, Shannon Airport, a Shannon Group company.

The purpose of the visit was to familiarise themselves with Shannon Group operations. In addition to their meeting in Shannon, the delegation received a briefing on Shannon Free Zone from Ray O’Driscoll the Managing Directory of Shannon Group’s property company Shannon Commercial Properties. They also enjoyed a tour of Bunratty Castle from Niall O’Callaghan, Managing Director, Shannon Group’s tourism company, Shannon Heritage.

Speaking after the visit, Shannon Group Acting CEO, Mary Considine said that it is further recognition of how important the Shannon region is viewed by the Chinese authorities. 

“We were delighted to welcome Mr. You and his delegation to Shannon. We had a very positive meeting during which we discussed the very close current and historical ties between the regions as well as the opportunities that exist to strengthen these in the years ahead.

“Mr. You expressed his respect and admiration for the pioneering history of the Shannon Free Zone which has had a lasting impact far beyond Ireland.  The visit again reaffirms the role that Shannon plays for Ireland in terms of international relations. Clearly, the big economies of the world admire how we do business here,” said Ms Considine.

The relationship between Shannon and China dates back almost four decades to 1980 when Mr Jiang Zemin, who would later become President of China, led a Chinese Government delegation to study the Shannon Free Zone model, which has since been adopted across China with the development of their hugely successful Special Economic Zones.

Mr Jiang Zemin’s visit to Shannon began a stream of visits which saw two Chinese Premiers and many Chinese Government delegations visit to further explore the regional economic development model here.  

Since then, among those to have visited Shannon were President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Huang Ju and Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan. The latest of these was Xi Jinping, President of China who visited in 2012 when he was then vice-president.

Facts about Shannon Airport, a Shannon Group company

Shannon Airport, Europe’s most westerly airport is 80 years old this year and is an integral part of the economy and wider community of the Shannon region. From humble beginnings with three simple grass runways in 1930’s Ireland, the County Clare based airport has grown to become one of Europe’s most unique transatlantic airports, a leader in airline innovation, and a key driver of business in Ireland’s Mid-West. Many ‘world’ first’ concepts started at Shannon.

Did you know? 

  • Every US President since John F Kennedy’s visit in 1963 has been welcomed at Shannon Group’s International airport, Shannon Airport.
  • High profile visitors to Shannon Airport include; Nelson Mandela, Princess Grace, Jackie Kennedy, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Stars who have visited Shannon Airport include Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Gene Kelly, Bob Hope, Mohammed Ali, Mick Jagger, Tom Hanks and many more.
  • The world’s first Duty Free shop was established at Shannon Airport in 1947. It began as a small kiosk staffed by one woman and today it has grown into an award winning airport retail offering that gave birth to a multi-billion dollar global retail industry.
  • Shannon Airport is open 365 days a year and in the 1940s and 1950s it was the primary technical transit stop for all airlines crossing the Atlantic to and from Europe.
  • Shannon is home to the world-famous Irish coffee, invented by airport Chef Joe Sheridan in 1942 at the original airport location in Foynes, a sea-plane base for transatlantic flights. It was invented to keep passengers warm.
  • Shannon Airport was the first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to provide full US Preclearance facilities (5th August 2009), making arrival in the US easier and faster. This means visitors arriving in the US are considered to be domestic passengers.
  • Shannon Airport has the longest runway in Ireland at 3,200 metres and is the only Irish airport that can accommodate the world’s largest jet, the Antonov AN 225. The enormous aircraft stands at seven stories high, with a wing span of 88 metres and has been on the Shannon runway a number of times.
  • The world’s largest private collection of diecast model aircraft is on permanent display at Shannon Airport.
  • Shannon Airport was the first airport in Europe to open an airport sensory room.
  • This year, Shannon Airport celebrates the 80th anniversary of the first passenger aircraft landing (11th July 1939) – a Belgian airliner (a tri-motor Savoia Marchetti S-73 of Sabena). 
  • In addition to its extensive European and UK services, Shannon Airport is the only airport along the Wild Atlantic Way touring route to offer transatlantic flights, with six airlines operating services to seven destinations.

About Shannon Group plc

Shannon Group plc is a commercial semi-state company established on the 5th September 2014. The Group, which employs more than 600 people, operates and manages three companies: Shannon Airport, Shannon Commercial Properties and Shannon Heritage, and through its IASC brand it promotes the growing aviation cluster at Shannon.

  • Shannon Airport provides world-wide air connectivity for its customers, offering direct services to destinations across Europe and North America.
  • Shannon Commercial Properties develops commercial property and manages one of the largest property portfolios in Ireland. It provides property solutions that enable Foreign Direct Investment and indigenous businesses to develop in the Mid-West and West regions. 
  • Shannon Heritage is the largest commercial operator and developer of tourist attractions in Ireland. It manages a variety of world-leading, immersive visitor attractions and evening entertainment events in Clare, Limerick, Galway and Dublin.
  • Through the International Aviation Services Centre (IASC), Shannon Group supports the development of a cluster of over 80 aviation companies based at the Group’s Shannon Free Zone.

Shannon Group’s mission is to manage and develop its aviation, tourism and property assets; to generate a sustainable commercial return; to drive excellence in safety standards and service to customers; and to make a difference to the communities it serves.

US President Donald Trump’s visit showcased Shannon and wider West of Ireland region – Shannon Group Chairman, Rose Hynes

The visit of US President Donald Trump showcased the West of Ireland and Shannon Group’s airport company, Shannon Airport, Shannon Group Chairman, Rose Hynes, stated today.

Speaking after President Trump departed Shannon, Ms. Hynes said that the visit brought global attention to the airport, to Shannon Group and the wider region.

“The visit of the American President Donald Trump to Shannon further illustrates the deep ties between the West of Ireland and the United States.

“Shannon is the gateway airport to the Wild Atlantic Way and is critical for tourism and indeed, business in this region, not least in the context of the huge US multi-national footprint here. The visit has been a huge sign-post for Shannon, something that will grow awareness of the airport as the premier access to this wonderful part of Ireland.”

She added: “The visit was another significant page in Irish-US relations facilitated by Shannon.  The airport has hosted so many politicians, stars of stage and screen over the years from the US. Its location here gave rise to huge business and tourism investment in the Shannon area and wider West of Ireland region over the years. It was also the first airport in the world, outside of the Americas, to provide full US Preclearance facilities, making arrival in the US easier and faster.”

Mary Considine, Acting CEO, Shannon Group, paid tribute to the staff across the company for their input in the run-up to and across the three-day visit. “This was a massive logistical operation for our staff.  A visit of a US President across three days is a mammoth undertaking and the fact that this was handled so seamlessly by our staff and that the airport remained operational at all times, speaks volumes about their dedication.

“We are used to hosting famous people here, including every US President since John F. Kennedy, but to do it so well five times in three days was a massive achievement for all involved.”

Ms Considine said that the visit had put a spotlight on Shannon that has the potential to attract more tourists and investment into the region: “President Trump’s visit saw over 150 journalists, many of them from the US, arrive in Shannon.  Much of the interest, of course, was focussed on the actual visit itself, which drew the eyes of the world to Shannon Airport. Volumes have also been written and broadcast across the US and the world about the airport, its history in aviation, Shannon Group and its impact on the region.

“On top of that, there has been a huge focus on Doonbeg, which is now probably the best-known Irish village in the world, a level of attention that will, no doubt, drive more visitors it’s way and heighten awareness of the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way. This has been a great opportunity for us and for the region and one we intend to capitalise on.”

“We have deep ties with the US, which are supported by our extensive range of direct transatlantic services that are the envy of airports across Europe.  This visit, and the attention it is bringing will do much to support those services.”

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Shannon Airport,
Co Clare,
t: +353 (0)61 710000

A Shannon Group Company