Michael Guerin is the honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in the southwestern part of Ireland.
One of his duties is to help Russians living in the area with regard to any legal process or advice. Often people just call in asking how to connect with other Russian speakers who live nearby. In addition, he represents the Russian embassy, meeting VIPs from Russia at Shannon airport, and officials from Ireland returning from Moscow.
Michael Guerin has longstanding ties with Russia. In the late 70s, Aeroflot decided to use Shannon airport as a transit point for flights to North America. At that time Guerin served as General Manager of the company Aer Rianta, which operated the three major airports of Ireland, Shannon, Dublin and Cork. It was he who invited Boris Krivchenko, the representative of “Aeroflot”, to build a new fueling station for Shannon airport, especially for Aeroflot flights. Some time later, Aer Rianta began selling Soviet oil to Western airlines.
In the early 80’s the number of flights surpassed all expectations, at more than a thousand a year. Aeroflot, after seeing the cooperation with Irish colleagues had proved successful, sent other transit flights tthrough Shannon. With the participation of Aeroflot in Shannon, an entire village for Soviet crews and flight attendants was built. With the beginning of perestroika, new opportunities for cooperation were opened, and Michael Guerin, together with Boris Krivchenko led an initiative to create a joint venture between Aer Rianta and Russian airlines. The result of this venture was the opening of duty-free shops in Sheremetevo Airport in 1987. In addition, Aer Rianta has built a paint hangar for Aeroflot airplanes, which operates to this day, serving airlines from around the world. “Trust played a huge role in business with the Russians, it had to be earned. If our Russian partners saw that they could trust us, and we fulfilled all the requirements agreed in advance, they would then agree to long-term cooperation. In no case could we betray any insecurity or weakness” says Guerin.
Guerin has visited Russia many times. He says that in the 70s, to say “I’m going to Russia,” sounded as exotic as “I’m flying to the moon.” When Michael arrived in Moscow for the first time in 1979, everything appeared very unusual and entertaining. “We stayed at the departmental hotel belonging to the Ministry of Aviation. Every morning started with finding the place for breakfast, which for some reason, constantly changed. So we ran from the third to the sixth floor and from sixth to the ninth.”
In the early 80s more than 5,000 Irish people lived and worked in Moscow. Since then the situation has changed significantly. The Irish departed the Russian capital, and now more than 80,000 Russian-speakers live and work in Ireland.
To be the Honorary Consul is for Michael Guerin not only an honour, but also a clear pleasure. He happily finds time for all Russian parties and receptions, to which he is always invited. And he is trusted by the Russian community, as the consul’s phone number is passed from hand to hand of those whom he has helped and they recommend him to friends and acquaintances.
In 2004, Michael Guerin and Boris Krivchenko launched a large-scale project: the Russian-Irish airline “Skynet”, which in agreement with Aeroflot operated flights between Moscow, Amsterdam, Dublin and Shannon. However, this project lasted only one year and in 2005, “Aeroflot” refused to cooperate with the Irish side. The Russian national airline upgraded its fleet and began to make transatlantic flights on planes that did not need refueling. Thus, the need to stop in Shannon disappeared.
“The entire business between Shannon and Russia was due to the presence of Aeroflot in our airport” says Guerin “Now that Russian planes don’t fly through Shannon, I do not see any great prospects. Perhaps we should offer Russian airlines to transport its passengers to Shannon for them to transfer onto transatlantic flights. This is what a number of European and American operators have been doing.”
Shannon airport on the web: http://www.shannonairport.com/
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