The Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council has issued a clarion call for the Government to step in and ensure the future of Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK ) - which is facing into major losses this year due to the impact of Covid-19.
Cathaoirleach, Cllr Richard Finn, told the October meeting of Mayo County Council this week: "The importance of IWAK to businesses in the west of Ireland is immense in relation to jobs - it is an engine of the western economy and it is an economic driver of the west that gives out the right vibes in relation to future investment in the west - it has serious implications for business and tourism and our largest passenger area in the UK."
The Cathaoirleach read out three requests to council members that he had for the Goverment to comply with - to ensure the survival of the airport, as follows: (1 ) To request the Government provide urgent support to the airport to address the extraordinary losses of up to €4 million for 2020; (2 ) To implement the recommendations of the recent aviation transport task force and to put in place appropriate financial support measures with airlines to support and incentivise the restoration of critical air access into the west and north west; and (3 ) To adopt the European Commission's traffic light system to open up international travel across Europe while assuring a high level of human health protection.
The Cathaoirleach continued: "I know that every councillor here will support that, I know Joe Gilmore [CEO IWAK] and his staff in the airport are anxious, and extremely so, to see the return of the airport and continue the great work they have been doing down the years. We hear about every airport around the county and we need to ensure our message is heard at national level."
There was full support for the Cathaoirelach from the elected members in relation to the need for something to be done to ensure the airport can survive and get back to where it was pre-covid, with numerous councillors pointing out the economic necessity of the airport for growth in the region.
Others, like Cllr Paul McNamara, added that the airport provided the key link for people who had to emigrate and kept families together, because it enabled them to come home more often than in the past - sometimes even quicker than it might take them to drive home from Dublin. This is something that could not be forgotten, he said.