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Focus on Limerick

Shannon – Gateway to the USA

T

he word ’Shannon’ has been a byword for innovation the world-over ever since it became the first aviation gateway between Europe and the US in the late 1940s. Indeed, such was the airport’s importance as a gateway into Europe that the town of Shannon, which itself did not exist prior to the development of the airport, is home now to the largest cluster of US multi-national investment in Ireland today – the Shannon Free zone, with over 100 international companies and 6,500 people employed. The very culture of US investment in Ireland was essentially ignited by the access Shannon gave US business to Ireland and indeed, to the wider European market from the middle of the last century. One only has to look at the Airport’s more recent history to recognize its importance in Irish-US relations; in 2009 it became the first airport in the world outside of the Americas to be granted Full US Preclearance rights.

This gives it an edge over every other airport in Europe in terms of ease of access for passengers on arrival into the US, where they are effectively treated as domestic passengers after pre-clearing in Shannon. There are many other ’firsts’- including the birthplace of duty free, the aircraft leasing industry – and now Shannon is the first independent Irish airport having separated from the Dublin Airport Authority on 1st January 2013.

A new Era Shannon Airport is proudly gearing up for a new era as a dynamic gateway for trade and tourism between the US and the southwest of Ireland. While the airport officially received its independence on January 1 2013, the announcement of this separation gave the first key insight into the future that lies ahead for Shannon as a medium term year plan

was outlined. The plan immediately focuses on growing passenger numbers to 2.5million within ten years and a key component of this will be transatlantic traffic. Indeed, after some difficult years when Shannon managed to retain a strong transatlantic presence despite clear global challenges, the airport is already on the upward curve and with services to five US airports scheduled for the next year. Flights to New York ( JFK and Newark) with three separate airlines (Aer Lingus, United Airlines and Delta) as well as Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia are all confirmed. These USA routes include new services to Chicago (United Airlines) and Philadelphia (US Airways). Together with a strengthening of Aer Lingus’ services to New York and Boston, this will result in increased capacity of 25% for the summer season on transatlantic services at Shannon. Managing Director Mary Considine said that the US market remains a key focus for Silicon Valley Global | 143

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