Airfreight capacity from Irish airports fell by 50pc between 2007 and 2011, according to a new study from the Irish Exporters Association (IEA), which includes a number of recommendations to reverse this trend.
The report, which was published with support from Dublin Airport Authority, the Mid-West Regional Authority (MWRA), Shannon Development and Bombardier, finds that airfreight capacity (non-stop and multi-stop routings) leaving Irish airports amounted to 207,730 tonnes in 2007, but that this had fallen to 105,077 tonnes by 2011.
‘’World class air transport infrastructure is an essential component of Ireland’s export capability in the hi-tech and life sciences sector and will be essential if the country is to continue to be an attractive location for high value FDI,” said John Whelan, chief executive of the IEA.
One of the recommendations of the report is for Dublin and Shannon Airports, in conjunction with the Government, to secure the agreement of the US authorities to provide, initially on a pilot basis, US Customs and FDA pre-clearance facilities for both Irish and European originating freight. The IEA said the success of the existing passenger pre-clearance installations at both Shannon and Dublin should help make the case.
The study also stresses the need to attract new carriers. ’’The fall in air freight capacity will only be addressed if the Irish Government devises innovative initiatives to incentivise new carriers to enter the Irish market, in addition to using all existing levers including new route incentives and air freight growth incentives,” said Whelan. “Given the importance of belly-hold cargo, opportunities for further reduction in travel taxes should be constantly monitored.’’
Elsewhere, the study states that Dublin and Shannon Airports should explore all possible funding sources to enable them to develop state-of-the-art cargo terminal facilities. The provision of a cold chain facility such as that envisaged under the LYNXS Cargo Port project proposal for Shannon Airport should be pursued, the IEA said. Meanwhile, Shannon Airport should endeavour to position itself as a European hub for US-bound life sciences cargo: by leveraging existing tax provisions to attract European life science companies to base manufacturing and logistics centres in the region; and through the deployment of new incentives to persuade express integrators to develop a specialist sectorial hub at the airport.
It is also recommended that Dublin Airport engage in a detailed consultation process with the airport’s air freight industry partners. The IEA said the focus should be to determine and encourage investment by industry partners in new state-of-the-art freight facilities at the airport.