Ireland West Airport Knock is to receive funding for urgent safety works to the tune of nearly half a million euro.
The €495,000 in funds, which will grant aid 90 per cent of the cost of works, will be used for the upgrade of the passenger apron and taxi way.
The announcement was made by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey TD on Tuesday and has been broadly welcomed by local politicians and the airport itself.
Donegal Airport is also to receive nearly €2.5 million for an instrument landing system and for reconfiguration and overlay of the runway.
In making the announcement Minister Dempsey promised that later this year he would be giving further consideration to the overall capital funding of projects at the regional airports in future years.
The managing director of IWAK Mr Joe Gilmore said the existing apron and taxi way infrastructure was in place since 1985 and the maintenance and upgrade works will be carried on an area where aircraft park on landing as well as the main taxi area. He said it was of “critical importance” to ensure the safe and continued operation of flights both to and from the airport, and to ensuring that the airport complies with all relevant safety regulations.
The works will “ensure that the airport continues to maintain the high standards of passenger service and operational flexibility that has become synonymous with this key international air access gateway for the people of the west of Ireland,” said Mr Gilmore.
Airport chairman Mr Liam Scollan thanked the Minister for “responding quickly to the airport’s request” which was made in March of this year.
He said he had apprised Deputy Beverley Flynn in March of the need for urgent support for apron resurfacing and she had made strong representations to both Minister Eamon Ó Cuív and Minister Dempsey.
“It is heartening to see that even in these times of financial difficulties for the Government we have local representatives like Beverley Flynn TD who continue to promote the region and its airport despite the economic situation, and clearly the Government is listening too. Support like this is encouraging for the airport and for western development at this time,” added the chairman.
Mayo Minister for Labour Affairs Dara Calleary has welcomed the funding as has Dep Flynn. Dep Flynn said: “Ireland West Airport Knock continues to serve the people of the western region exceptionally well and it is the gem in our tourism product here in Mayo. It must be supported in every way possible, by Government funding and by local people who continue to help make it a viable and successful business.”
She was joined by Senator John Carty who paid tribute to IWAK’s “vital role in the economic, tourism, social, and cultural life of the region”.