Fears for Knock Airport following Shannon Airport debt write-off decision

Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has expressed serious concerns about what he termed “potentially serious implications” for Ireland West Airport Knock arising from the Government’s announced changes regarding €100 million debt write-off and re-structuring at Shannon Airport.

“The Government’s decision in relation to the reorganisation of Shannon Airport could have damaging consequences for Knock Airport,” Deputy Calleary said. “The Transport Minister Leo Varadkar has given strong indications that there will be debt write off at Shannon Airport. If this is to happen, I want to see any debts that Knock Airport may have written off in a similar fashion. If this new deal includes incentives for airlines to operate out of Shannon, I will demand a replica deal for airlines operating out of Knock. All I want is a level playing pitch.

“As the details emerge of this strategy in the coming months, I am calling on the four Government TDs in this constituency to stand up and secure the future of Knock Airport. They must continue to provide the strong support to Knock that was provided under previous Governments.

“I am seeking to raise this matter in the Dáil at the earliest possible opportunity. The Government has serious questions to answer in relation to the future of Knock Airport and these questions must be answered urgently,” said Deputy Calleary.

Ireland West Airport Knock chairman Liam Scollan, on behalf of the board and management and staff of the airport expresses concern at the Government’s initiative on Shannon. “Ireland West Airport Knock, which is held on trust for the people of the west/northwest region and managed by the Connaught Airport Development company, has learned of the Government’s initiative to make Shannon Airport debt free from in excess of €100m of debt,” he said. “This debt arose from recent investment in airport related infrastructure. In addition we understand the Government intends to provide working capital to help it make a fresh start for the benefit of the airport and the region.

“Ireland West Airport welcomes this positive initiative to support the midwest region and the airport serving it. Knock airport has engaged for a number of years with Government to ensure that a similar approach is undertaken to develop this Airport for the benefit of regions which we serve, so that the west/northwest and border region benefits equally from such positive Government initiatives.

“We are now monitoring the situation with regard to the Government’s investment in Shannon. Our position is that we urge the Government to take an even-handed and equitable approach in relation to significant aviation, tourism, and enterprise investments in the west of Ireland. We continue to urge the Government to expedite its plans for the development of Ireland West Airport in conjunction with the developments at Shannon, so that the regions are equally well served and the State contributes on a similar basis to enterprise, tourism development and job creation throughout the west.”

Responding to concerns, Mayo Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony said he had been assured by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Ireland West Airport Knock will not be disadvantaged by any restructuring taking place in Shannon. “The Taoiseach also stated that his Government will continue to support the development of Ireland West Airport Knock,” he added.

“As a Government TD for Mayo, I understand very clearly just how important a role IWAK plays in the development of our county and our region and I will not stand by and allow its services or facilities be diluted in any way. The board, management, and staff at IWAK have worked tirelessly over many years to develop the airport into the magnificent facility that it is today and nothing can be allowed come in its way.

“I endorse what the chairman said when he called for the Government to work with IWAK to further develop the airport so the northwest and west regions are equally well served with the midwest regions and that the state contributes on a similar basis to enterprise, tourism development and job creation throughout the west,” he added.

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