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Shannon Airport writes another page in history book

The airport is also looking to develop long-haul passenger traffic, which will provide belly freight opportunities.

In addition, Shannon Airport already has U.S. Customs preclearance for passengers. Edmond says the airport and IASC are looking at an extension of that.

“How do we extend that kind of process facilitation from the passenger space to the cargo space? Not necessarily for U.S.-bound cargo, but just in general terms,” he says. “How do we speed up the cargo supply chain? Because it’s not just about minimizing the number of miles the cargo flies. It’s about shortening the supply chain and getting it reliably to its destination in the least possible time.”

For example, Shannon has many fresh seafood exporters, who see strong demand for their product in southern China and Southeast Asia. But exporters must know how long Customs will take in order to open those markets.

“If I’m a shipper and I’m shipping high-volume consignments around the place, if I don’t know how long it’s going to take for the shipment to clear Customs, that really reduces the efficiency of my supply chain,” Edmond explains. “It really makes just-in-time very, very difficult, and more so if I’m shipping perishables.”

News headlines have used the phrase “cargo hub” to describe Shannon Airport’s ultimate goal, but Edmond says Shannon wants to be a transshipment point – not a hub.

“We’re not going to be the next Dubai or Singapore, but there’s an awful lot we can learn from places like that, which have taken their geographic location, applied business-friendly policies to it and gone after a specific global business need – and done that quite effectively,” he says.

Edmond says IASC and the airport are preparing plans to build more hangars and develop a new cargo terminal. Shannon Airport is also next to a deep-water port, so some companies are considering the possibility of intermodal facilities.

Buckley says one of the challenges to the airport’s cargo goal is building a critical mass of business in IASC’s area and getting new carriers interested in Shannon.

“There will be an awful lot of change and development and building work going on over the next couple of years,” Edmond says. “I feel quite confident that within a year or two, Shannon will be on the radar screen, if you like, in a big way.”

Shannon Airport is working on a plan to develop its cargo activity.