I thank the committee for the opportunity to outline the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on Shannon Group and the aviation and tourism sectors more generally. Most importantly, I will refer to the support measures required to assist us as we navigate this crisis.
Shannon Group is a commercial State company. Like DAA, we are not funded by the Exchequer. Our mandate is to promote aviation and optimise the return on our land and property assets. We employ more than 600 people across our businesses: Shannon Airport, Shannon Commercial Properties and Shannon Heritage. Through our International Aviation Services Centre, IASC, we also support the development of a cluster of more than 80 aviation companies based in the Shannon Free Zone. The Shannon Group is a key driver of economic growth in the mid-west and along the Atlantic seaboard. Our activities support a significant number jobs in the region. The connectivity the group provides through Shannon Airport is vital for the business and tourism interests located in our region and enables them to live locally but trade globally.
We in Shannon Group started out this year with great optimism, projecting growth for each of our businesses. We had secured new routes for the airport, were continuing our strong investment strategy through Shannon Commercial Properties, and anticipated growth at our Shannon Heritage visitor sites. We have been through many crises in the past but never on such a scale. Two of our three businesses, Shannon Airport and Shannon Heritage, have been devastated by this pandemic. Like airports all over the world, Shannon Airport witnessed an almost total collapse of airport traffic, connectivity and revenues. All market indications point to a very slow recovery.
Throughout this crisis we have endeavoured to maintain a level of service at our airport to allow repatriation flights and essential cargo movements, including facilitating the delivery of vital personal protective equipment, PPE, to provide emergency cover, and to facilitate maintenance, repair and overhaul, MRO, operators on the airfield. I am proud of the role our employees played throughout the crisis in ensuring the availability of these services.
Between the onset of the pandemic and the end of June, passenger numbers have decreased by 96% year on year. We expect our group revenue to be down by more than 60% this year.
Faced with the fact that our group revenue has fallen by over €1.3 million per week since March, we took decisive action and implemented difficult but necessary short-term measures to preserve the business for the future, allow us to recover from and rebuild after this crisis and, ultimately, protect jobs in the longer term.
Similar to other airports, we have engaged with our employees on a range of measures to reduce payroll costs while we recover from this crisis. Those measures include a temporary reduction in pay and a voluntary severance scheme.
We launched a Covid customer safety charter at the airport and introduced rigorous new public health measures across our businesses in order to protect the health and safety of staff and instil confidence in everyone coming to our airport and heritage sites.
On 1 July we reopened our reopened our terminal to scheduled services, with the recommencement of 16 routes by Ryanair. However, in light of Government advice regarding essential travel only, passenger numbers have been extremely low. We are now operating at well below 20% of normal activity levels for July. Passenger numbers were down by 88% for the first 21 days of the month.
Due to the heavy reliance of Shannon Heritage on business from the international marketplace - this accounts for over 70% of our visitors - we have only been able to open our key sites for the peak season to cater for the domestic market. Unfortunately, despite an extensive marketing campaign, visitor numbers and revenues at our sites are significantly down. The fact is that 30% of our business is never going to make up for the 70% that is not there. Given the collapse in revenue and the increasing losses being incurred by Shannon Heritage, the group is not in a position to continue to subvent the business into the off-season. As a result, we have sought Government support to cover the cost of keeping sites open.
Aviation is expected to be the last sector of the economy to recover. During this time, the economic cost is mounting. Air connectivity is vital for FDI and indigenous businesses in our region. Equally, our location as the transatlantic gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way is crucial for the tourism industry right along the west coast. As a member of the aviation task force, I have highlighted on behalf of Shannon Group the importance of airports to the regions in the context of driving economic recovery and balanced regional development. The measures contained in the task force's report are vital for recovery, including in the context of rebuilding regional and international connectivity. A stimulus package urgently needs be put in place in order to encourage the rebuilding of air traffic. We also need Government support package for essential capital projects at the airport. We welcome the Government's July stimulus package - particularly the extension of the temporary wage support scheme - and we are reviewing the measures it contains in order to identify how they can support our businesses.
This pandemic has caused massive disruption. It has changed how we live and work. Until there is a vaccine, there will be many issues which will have to be managed. We can get through this but we have to be prepared to do things differently. We in Shannon Group have taken many short-term difficult decisions to deal with Covid-19 in order to preserve our businesses for the future. We have done what we can, and now Government action is urgently required. We must work together. There is an urgent need for stakeholders to act together in terms of simultaneously managing the direct consequences of the crisis. We have an opportunity to rebalance Ireland for a more sustainable and resilient future.