Air, Freight News, People

Sean McCool,1931-2023

[ June 29, 2023   //   ]

Doyen of the Irish airfreight industry Sean McCool passed away on 16 June at the age of 92.

The chairman of the country’s largest cargo general sales and service agents, International Airine Marketing (IAM), he also played a leading role in the wider airfreight industry including Ireland’s hosting of the FIATA world congress in 2016.

IAM Cargo said: “Sean had an extraordinary life and career in business that lasted over 70 years. Doing what he loved every day and entrepreneurial to his core, he was a great thinker and strategist, and way ahead of his time. Always up for a challenge, he loved finding and creating new opportunities, and bringing others along for the adventure.”

His career started in the 1950s with senior positions in Seaboard & Western Airlines, Brinks (which he introduced to Ireland) and Aer Lingus commercial cargo, where he played a key role in setting up the successful cargo operation in Ireland and Europe.

He also played a vital role in the origins of the Shannon Trade Zone, cleverly linking key players in international media and government. In the 1960s, he established a number of specialist companies in the Shannon Free Zone, including Shanex and South West Trading and sat on the Marketing Committee of the Confederation of Irish Industries.

In the following decades he joined the board of Havelet Holdings (a Minet subsidiary) and was chairman of Ryanair Executive Jet Terminals. He then went to South Africa as general manager of Hudson Offshore Holdings overseeing huge capital projects.

Following his appointment as Honorary Trade Commissioner for Republic of South Africa in Ireland, he established the Ireland South Africa Business Association in 1983.
He was a founder member and fellow of the Irish Air Cargo Institute; the Irish Institute of Freight Forwarders (IIFA). He is a former Council member of FIATA (when Ireland hosted two global Congress events (in 1981 & 2016), the Irish Exporters Association and a past vice-president of the CLECAT European forwarders’ federation.

He set up International Airline Marketing Limited (IAM) in 1989, which now represents over 25% of Irelands air cargo exports, staying on as chairman of the company after he retired from his executive role and passing the reins to his son, Ian.  

A recipient of numerous awards, in recent years he received the 2017 Logistics & Transport Leader award for services to the industry and in 2019, was inducted into the All-Ireland Business Foundation (AIBF) Hall of Fame in recognition of an outstanding contribution to Irish industry over seven decades.

He will be remembered by all that met him for his great energy, can do and positive attitude and his happy smile. Always thoughtful and interested in what people had to say, every encounter was a new friendship, a new opportunity.

He will be sadly missed by his family, many, many friends, colleagues, customers and by all the crew at IAM.