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Ireland West Airport Knock threatens legal challenge over Shannon plans

Management said it may have “no choice but to challenge the Government’s inequitable behaviour towards the airport in the courts”.

West Airport Knock
West Airport Knock
Image: West Airport Knock via Facebook

IRELAND WEST AIRPORT Knock has said it may have “no choice” but to launch a legal challenge against the Government’s subsidy and support plans for Ireland’s airports, in particular the separation of Shannon Airport from the DAA.

Chairman Liam Scollan explained, “The decision to intervene so generously in one airport [Shannon] while ignoring other airports amounted to an unfair, wasteful and possible illegal use of scarce resources, which would not serve the interests of national aviation.”

The Government plans to launch a rescue package today to ensure the long-term future of Shannon Airport, including a write-off of its €100 million debt and an investment of millions of euro in working capital. There are hopes among the coalition that the separation from DAA will lead to increased traffic, greater passenger numbers and more jobs at Shannon. According to reports, a proposed new international centre for aviation services will also be announced by Ministers Richard Bruton and Leo Varadkar at a midday press briefing.

However, Scollan believes the measures could “trigger the terminal decline of an efficient, growing airport like Knock, which has begun to compete successfully with the State-owned Shannon at a fraction of the cost. It was also a financially disastrous policy for hard-pressed taxpayers.”

In 2012, Knock airport received just eight per cent of its funding from the State, saw about 700,000 passengers pass through its doors and had a list of 28 overseas destinations.

In a statement issued last night, the chairman was highly-critical of what he described as the Government’s one-airport strategy.

“This parochial decision by Government to blindly pump cash into one State airport, in the absence of any attention to its impacts on a competing airport like Knock, ignores warnings from the Government’s own aviation advisers at Booz and Co. In their report to Government earlier this year they stated that the Government should not proceed with a support package for Shannon before developing a coherent policy towards airports for the country as a whole.”

The future of Knock airport will be discussed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications this Wednesday morning before the Budget announcement.

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