Fianna Fáil Senator, Lisa Chambers, has called on the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, to bring forward a plan to secure the future of Ireland West Airport Knock.
Senator Chambers stated: "Since the pandemic we have seen a huge loss of connectivity and flights to and from Ireland West Airport Knock. This poses a significant threat to the entire economy of the North West region and a plan needs to be put in place immediately to ensure it is protected and to secure its future.
“Due to the decline in flights and the expected loss the airport is facing for the year 2020, the airport has had to lay off a number of staff and reduce working hours for the remaining staff.
“The airport suffered an 88 percent decline in passenger numbers in July and August 2020 compared to the same period last year. This is an extremely worrying trend, immediate action is needed, and the Minister must outline the steps he intends to take to address these issues without delay.
“I have requested that the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, come before the Seanad to outline his plans to ensure the future and survival of Ireland West Airport Knock. We cannot ignore the problems our aviation sector is facing, we need to act before it is too late."
Her party colleague, Cllr Paul McNamara, also raised the issue of the future of Ireland West Airport Knock at Mayo County Council's Economic Development, Enterprise Support, Planning and Marine Strategic Policy Committee this week. Cllr McNamara said that if IWAK went 'it would be a death knell for rural Ireland'.
He told the Mayo Advertiser that the airport kept rural Ireland alive during the last recession, not only bringing people in on holidays, it also allowed people to travel abroad to work, especially to the UK, and still come home.
He added that it 'kept families able to live in rural Ireland' and not having to uproot and move. If one member of the family had to travel for work, they could come home every few weeks or more often if they were able and it kept money coming into local areas, keeping these areas alive.