Shannon Airport to house global airfreight hub

The Dublin Airport Authority has inked a deal with U.S.-based Lynxs Group to establish a major airfreight hub at Ireland’s Shannon Airport. Outlined in the agreement are plans to construct a temperature-controlled cargo logistics center that will “radically reposition” Shannon’s freight operations, airport officials said.

Lynxs’ cargo hub will be marketed to both Shannon’s existing freight carriers and potential new clients. Not that it should be a hard sell, DAA officials assert — the facility will feature heated, chilled and frozen areas for freight, allowing Shannon to bid for more high-value goods.

Shannon Airport Authority Chairman Brian O’Connell said Shannon’s the perfect setting for such a hub for one key reason: location. “Lynxs will give Shannon Airport an excellent opportunity to exploit its central location between the major economies of the U.S., Europe and Asia and to develop as a significant cargo destination,” he said in a statement.

Developing a strong airfreight presence is arguably new territory for the Irish airport, however. Although a significant amount of cargo is transported in and out of Ireland — due to the region’s strong industrial sector — approximately 80 percent of it is driven to airports outside of the nation. “This is something I would particularly like to see addressed by Shannon Airport,” Ireland’s Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar stated.

Fortunately, O’Connell said, the airport has the systems in place to handle large amounts of cargo. Crediting Shannon’s free-trade-zone operations with promoting international commerce, he said the airport’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pre-clearance facility has also eased flight operations.

“The opportunity of extending CBP to cargo at a future date could develop a whole new range of leading-edge air cargo services at Shannon Airport, which would bring substantial investment, employment and more business to the region,” O’Connell said in a statement.

Varadkar also has high hopes for the new facility. “The signing of this [agreement] confirms the continued commitment of both parties to further develop the valuable air cargo market,” he said. Plus, “Shannon’s lengthy runway means it can take very heavy cargo-bearing aircraft, unlike many other airports, giving it a unique capacity to exploit air cargo.”

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