The smiles on the faces at Shannon Airport very much told its own story with passengers taking to the skies as the easing of restrictions and the first day of the European Digital COVID Certificates took effect this week.
And it wasn’t just the joy of travel starting to resume that lifted spirits at the airport but also the announcement by Ryanair of a new once-weekly service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas ) which commences on 7th August - the third new service announcement for Shannon Airport over recent weeks.
There was a real sense of excitement as passengers of all ages became very much at ease with the heightened public safety measures in a ‘back-to-the-future’ day for the West of Ireland gateway airport.
There were reunions as inbound flights arrived but also a palpable degree of anticipation as others got set to depart on the earliest flight out of the airport today, the 7:10am flight to Gatwick.
Among those boarding were Clarenbridge, Co Galway native Claire Tomlin and her husband Jake, together with their three children, including their twins who turn one year old next week.
“It’s been amazing to get back. The kids saw their grandparents for the first time and their cousins and aunties and uncles, so it was fantastic,” said Claire.
“Shannon is just so convenient for us because it’s only about 40 minutes’ drive. So, it just makes everything a lot easier in terms of getting to and from places with little ones. So, yeah, Shannon is a great resource for us. Really, really good. We hope to be able to go back more and more.”
It was smiles all around for Shannon Airport staff as they got back to doing what they do best. “Well, today is a great day because you can see the atmosphere around the place, people are at ease here and they’re glad to be back, they’re glad to get up in the sky again,” said Shannon Duty Free Sales Associate Helen Quinlivan.
“It’s great to see the excitement. People are really looking forward to going back and seeing their loved ones and they’re very at ease.”
Mary Considine, CEO of Shannon Group, which operates Shannon Airport said the reopening of international travel is a very significant step forward not only for Shannon Airport, but for the thousands of jobs and businesses along the Wild Atlantic Way and Mid-West that depend on these services to support their operation.
“With the introduction of the EU Digital COVID certificate, together with the roll-out of the vaccination programme, which is powering ahead, there is a real sense of optimism in the air. Although there is a long road ahead of us to get airport passenger numbers back to anything like 2019 levels, it is important to acknowledge these milestones on our journey to recover and rebuild our business,” Ms Considine added.