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Galway Airport begs government to reverse funding cuts

The airport says it needs a €1.2m grant to stay in businesses – and still hopes the government will save the day.

Image: mhausenblas via Flickr

Updated, 11.54

THE MANAGEMENT OF Galway Airport is to appeal to the government to reverse its decision withdrawing state funding at the end of this year – a move it believes could force the airport to close for good.

The airport’s managing director Joe Walsh and his colleagues will today appeal to the government to reconsider its funding procedures, which saw the government allocate its €5.9m in funding for regional airports to only four regional airports.

Both Galway and Sligo airports previously received State funding – but now only Knock, Kerry, Donegal and Waterford will share the payments. Transport minister Leo Varadkar has insisted the decision is final.

State funding for Galway and Sligo airport was pulled at the end of last month – though Galway Airport was granted a six-month extension to find alternative funding. Galway’s management team says that window is ‘unrealistic’.

Without the state funding, the airport could be forced to shut entirely with the potential loss of 180 jobs.

The board will meet this morning to consider the looming financial crisis, but RTÉ says the board will appeal the “unexpected and ill-advised” decision.

The Irish Times reports, meanwhile, that Kerry Airport has opened talks with a number of budget airlines in moves aimed at promoting interest in the Kerry-Dublin route.

Ryanair, which currently operates one flight in each direction between Dublin and Kerry, previously operated three return flights from the capital each day. In December it announced it would withdraw from its Public Service Obligation contract, effective from next month.

The airline says it will consider applying for the route again, despite having withdrawn from it only six months ago.

The Department of Transport said that the six-month extension to Galway’s funding, ensuring funding until the end of 2011, had given the airport time to “prepare for the future”.

It added that the economic crisis meant “that substantial reductions will have to be made in next year’s budget, and it won’t be possible to provide further funding to Galway Airport next year.

“The airport should now engage with investors, businesses, local authorities and other interests in order to explore its on-going viability.”

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Gavan Reilly

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