Ireland West Airport has welcomed the announcement of funding of €1.9m for the airport under the Public Policy Remit Operational Expenditure Subvention (PPR-O ) and Covid-19 Supplementary Support Funding Scheme.
This funding is being administered under the Regional Airports Programme 2021-2025, the Covid-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021, as well as the Covid-19 Supplementary Supports Scheme for Irish Airports, recently approved by the European Commission.
Funding provided under the Regional Airports Programme contributes towards vital safety and security operations at the airports, such as air traffic control, fire services and security, ensuring airports can continue to remain compliant with regulatory requirements in these areas.
Funding provided under the Supplementary Supports Scheme to Irish Airports includes an allocation under Phase 2 of the Supplementary Supports package approved by Government in November 2020. This funding has been allocated to each airport on a pro-rata basis in line with 2019 passenger numbers and calculated in accordance with the eligibility criteria of all measures under the approved State aid Scheme.
Passenger numbers at Ireland West Airport in 2021 are expected to be 188,000 which will be a 77% decline on pre Covid passenger numbers, which reached a record high 807,000 in 2019. In 2020 142,000 passengers used the airport with commercial flight operations suspended for almost nine months across 2020 and 2021.
Welcoming the announcement, Arthur French, Chairman, Ireland West Airport, said: "I wish to thank the Taoiseach, Ministers Ryan and in particular our local Minister Hildegarde Naughton TD, who works tirelessly in supporting this airport and region and also to our local TD’s, political representatives and the Western Chambers for their strong support for the airport and the regions it serves over the last 18 months in particular.
"Without this ongoing support and that of our Local Authority shareholders and airline partners, the airport would have been in a critically vunerable position through the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst the airport and indeed the entire aviation sector continues to be adversely impacted by Covid-19, we are confident that once the pandemic subsides, demand for international travel will rebound stronger than ever and we will return to passenger growth sooner than anticipated."
Welcoming the announcement, Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said: "There is very positive news for IWAK today with funding totalling €1.9 million being allocated by the government in direct support.
"This is extremely good news for Knock in a good news week for the facility after the announcement on Monday that Ryanair are to launch a year-round service to Birmingham from March next year.
"I want to compliment Joe Gilmore and his team at Knock for getting through the past 18 months and preserving as many of the jobs as possible at the airport.
"I am delighted to play my part in assisting the airport to stabilise and grow in the aftermath of Covid restrictions and look forward to 2022 being a better year than the one about to end. Knock Airport is the jewel in crown not just of Mayo but the entire region – and like so many others I am delighted to see it back on a steady footing after a difficult period."
Also welcoming the announcement Fine Gael TD Alan Dillon said: "This funding will go a long way towards enabling our regional airports to remain financially sustainable as they move beyond this current crisis and into 2022.
"Government fully recognize the devastating impact that Covid has had on our regional airports. This almost €1.9m of funding announced today for Knock airport will help alleviate the financial damage caused by Covid to the maximum amounts allowable under the Supplementary Supports Scheme for Irish Airports."
His party colleague, Deputy Michael Ring added: "This funding is again very welcome news in light of the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on airports. This funding will assist Ireland West Airport to remain financially sustainable as they move beyond this current crisis and into 2022. This funding also reinforces the Government’s commitment to the Aviation sector."