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Calls for government to protect future of Knock Airport

Concerns have been raised about the future of the airport in the wake of the government’s proposals to secure the future of Shannon Airport.

Ireland West Airport at Knock
Ireland West Airport at Knock
Image: Ireland West Airport Knock via Facebook

A LOBBY GROUP based in the west of Ireland has called on the government to back proposals that will protect the future Ireland West Airport at Knock in Mayo.

The Council for the West lobby group wants the government to invest some €75 million in the airport over the next five years in a bid to secure the jobs of the 150 people directly employed at the airport.

The council claims that this employment supports an additional 900 jobs in the region and provides an annual tourism and related spend of €117 million in the west of Ireland.

The future of the airport is currently being studied by an Oireachtas committee.

Ireland West Airport has put forward proposals to the government to secure what it calls an “expansion in routes and aviation related business” on foot of plans announced for Shannon Airport last year.

These plans included the merging of Shannon Airport and Shannon Development with the creation of 850 new jobs in a bid to make the loss-making airport profitable again and increase passenger numbers.

Ireland West Airport has estimated the total cost of this package for Shannon Airport is some €300 million including €100 million of debt financing and is concerned that this will be at the expense of the facility in Knock.

The Council for the West said that government policy should be developed in a way that is fair to both airports and it hopes a process outlining a timetable of development for the airport can be concluded by the end of June this year.

“The Government has recently received excellent proposals from Ireland West Airport,” said Sean Hannick, chairperson of the Council for the West.

“These proposals should be supported and we believe there should be a high-level implementation plan setting out how the Government particularly can assist Ireland West Airport in securing its aviation, enterprise and regional development objectives.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Transport Minister Leo Varadkar met with officials from Ireland West Airport in January and agreed that a study should be carried out to develop “strategic growth options for the airport”.

The study is being chaired by local Fine Gael TD John O’Mahoney who is also the deputy chair of the Oireachtas Transport Committee. The report is due to be presented to government at the end of May.

Previously: Ireland West Airport Knock threatens legal challenge over Shannon plans

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Hugh O'Connell

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