Galway Airport may reopen in the near future as discussions regarding the operation of a service there are ongoing between the county’s two local authorities and a Galway-based company.
Carnmore Aviation Ltd is understood to be assisting the Galway City Council and the Galway County Council to take a management contract for a period of 11 months, thereby allowing it to operate or oversee operations of an air service or services.
Carnmore Aviation Ltd is owned by the Conneely family of Ballinasloe, who also owns the Weston Airport in Dublin.
The Weston was bought for €3.5 million and there are plans to upgrade the radar system and buildings, and focus on aviation education courses. The interest in the former Galway Airport site - a 115 acre site in Carnmore with a 1,300m runway - is a another move into the aviation sector by the Conneelys, and the future plans for the airport site will be the subject of much interest and speculation.
The Galway Advertiser understands an air-taxi service between Galway and Dublin is likely to be operated from Carnmore, with the possibility this might be expanded to other routes at a later stage.
It is also understood that during the 12 month period of the contract, the local authorities will carry out a feasibility study on the facility’s future use.
The airport has already been the subject of a meeting between Carnmore Aviation Ltd and the two councils. The meeting concerned the Galway Flying Club, which operates from the airport, and was concluded on Monday at 10pm, with the GFC set to continue to be facilitated at the airport.
Galway Airport had closed last year, except the activities of the Galway Flying Club. The airport had been in decline since 2011 due to a combination of the recession; falling passenger numbers; Aer Arann suspending winter flights; the withdrawal of Government funding; and the vastly improved infrastructure linking Galway with Knock and Shannon which saw more people opt for those airports.
However late last year the airport aite was bought for €1.1 million by the two Galway local authorities in order for it “to be utilised in the interests of people in the area”.
The interest in the airport by Carnmore Aviation Ltd and the Conneelys’ operation of Weston has the potential to provide the airport site with a new lease of life.
Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish believes it has the potential to boost the Galway economy by providing an option to tourists and business travellers.
He also welcomed the decision to allow the Galway Flying Club to continue using the airport.
“The club will be able to store their aircraft on the site and use the runways,” he told the Galway Advertiser.
“I will be making a submission to the feasibility study that the GFC always be allowed use the airport. They do not need to use the long runway and the site is large enough for space to be found to accommodate them.”