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The terminal at Waterford Airport Alamy Stock Photo
Runway investment

Airport seeks €12m from Govt in bid to resume commercial flights for first time since 2016

Waterford Airport announced today it has received €12 million from the private sector – and it’s now seeking matching funds from the government.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 1st 2023, 9:45 PM

SEVEN YEARS AFTER its last commercial flight, Waterford Airport has received a €12 million funding boost in its bid to resume business.

The airport has received the investment from the Comer Group, run by billionaire brothers Luke and Brian Comer, with the money going towards developing a runway extension.

However, inflation costs means the cost of the expansion has doubled and now amounts to €25 million.

The remaining funding is being sought from the government through the Department of Transport.

In June 2016 the airport’s last route linking the city with Luton ceased due to decreasing traffic, leaving it without scheduled service since. It originally opened in 1981 and was first serviced by Ryanair.

The Comer Group funding will be provided in partnership with the Bolster Group, whose chief executive William Bolster has long held a significant shareholding in the company.

In a joint statement by Luke Comer and Bolster, they said they were delighted to finally announce the runway expansion, which received planning approval last year.

An Bord Pleanála argued that the runway extension would have a negligible impact on climate, granting extensions to the runway to better its chance of attracting commercial operators.

Backers now believe getting the airport back up and running will “reopen travel to the UK and European destinations” all year round.

“Those local to the area have had to travel to Dublin or Cork to catch flights over the last seven years and the time absolutely felt right to bring the airport back to life with much needed investment and put Waterford firmly back on the international map,” Comer and Bolster said.

Waterford Fine Gael Senator John Cummins, who is a former member of the board at Waterford Airport, said the confirmation of €12 million in private sector investment was a vital landmark in attempts to make the airport viable again.

“I have always believed in the ability of Waterford Airport to offer the essential direct connectivity to the region that we require to grow our business and tourism offer. The runway expansion project ticks a huge number of boxes and would undoubtedly drive the propulsive growth envisaged for Waterford in the National Planning Framework”, the senator said.

On the prospects of the government stumping up €12m for the project, Cummins said that “as recently as the 30 September at Fine Gael’s Small Business and Enterprise Conference” held in Waterford, the Taoiseach Loe Varadkar had “restated his commitment to the principle of 50:50 funding” for the airport.

Cummins added: “For my part, I will continue my engagement with the Taoiseach on this critically important project for Waterford and the South East region.”

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