The Western Development Commission (WDC ) welcomes the announcement this week that Ryanair will commence four new international flights from Ireland West Airport Knock. The new schedules will start in April 2012 between Ireland West Airport Knock and Barcelona, Frankfurt, Milan and Paris resulting in a total of 14 Ryanair routes from the West of Ireland airport.
Collectively, the flights are expected to deliver over 500,000 passengers, will sustain more than 500 jobs in Ireland West Airport Knock next summer and will provide a significant boost to tourism and general business across the entire Western Region.
Speaking about theannouncement, Helen Rochford Brennan, Chair of the Western Development Commission said that this is great news for the Western Region.
“The WDC has continually advocated for increased international air access into the west and today marks a very significant milestone in achieving that goal. Air is the preferred form of travel for most tourists, particularly for tourism to islands and long haul destinations. Air access is especially relevant in the case of the short-break market where the travel time needs to be minimised. In the Western Region, tourism is economically very important, employing nearly one in five (19.2 per cent or 23,700 people ) of those working in the accommodation and food services sector in Ireland. If the Region is to capitalise on key international markets then effective international access is critical.”
Earlier this year, a WDC Policy Briefing showed that transport infrastructure is one of the most important factors in stimulating economic growth enabling more efficient movement of goods, people and services. The policy briefing states that regional airports play an important role in providing direct international linkages, supporting balanced regional development and stimulating economic growth; without international air connections, tourism and companies based in the Western Region are at a competitive disadvantage.
The accessibility of the Western Region has already suffered a number of blows this year with the discontinuation of direct flights from West of Ireland airports to Dublin. The introduction of these new international flights is therefore timely and they will facilitate access to new markets and new opportunities for a range of sectors throughout the Region.
Ian Brannigan, Acting Chief Executive of the WDC said the announcement offers real opportunities to develop the untapped tourism potential of the Western Region. The WDC, through its Lookwest.ie initiative will work with all interested stakeholders in the Region to ensure that the full potential of today’s announcement is maximised and that we will continue to grow international tourism into the Region.
“Historically, relatively poor direct international air access was a factor in the weakness of the tourism sector in the North West and parts of the West. The growth in popularity of short-break tourism, coupled with the inaccessibility of the Region compared to other regions made it difficult to compete in this market. The direct international air services into the Western Region announced today will support enterprise and tourism development into the future and we would urge companies from all sectors throughout the Region to make use of the new services in order to safeguard their longevity.” he said.