The Programme for Government set out the Government’s desire to position Shannon Airport as an international hub for the storage and distribution of EU and UN emergency humanitarian supplies. Following consultations with the airport management and other local stakeholders, a full-scale feasibility study of the proposal was initiated in 2012, with the specific aim of providing an independent, evidence-based assessment of the viability and value-for-money of a possible humanitarian hub at the airport.
In November 2012, I met with the independent experts tasked with preparing this study. In presenting the results, they outlined that they had explored a number of options for Shannon Airport – including the prepositioning of relief items, the prepositioning of medical supplies, the possible development of a training facility at the airport and the establishment of a depot for civil protection assets. The study concluded that the various roles explored did not demonstrate sufficient economic viability in relation to the development of Shannon Airport in the manner which was envisaged under the Programme for Government. This conclusion was based on a cost-benefit analysis and is the result of consultation with a large number of international humanitarian organisations and agencies and potential end users of such a hub.
On the basis of the findings that there was no justifiable, economically viable rationale for advancing the plans to develop Shannon Airport in this manner, the decision was taken not to proceed. This decision, along with the feasibility study, has been publicly available on the Irish Aid website since December 2012.