Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin is calling on the Government to grant Ireland West Airport Knock concessions similar to those provided recently to Shannon Airport, following a rebuff from Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar on the issue.
Deputy Mulherin expressed concern at the response she received from Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar to her request that he set out plans for development and support of Ireland West Airport Knock.
“The Minister has stated that any development of Knock airport is a matter for the management of the Airport as it is a privately owned entity,” she said.
“This attitude to Knock has to be put to bed once and for all. The strategic significance of Knock Airport for the future development of the west and northwest giving us the connectivity for business and tourism we require to operate in the global village the world has become vital. Nobody wants to be driving 200 to 300km after they arrive at an airport to get into our region.”
Deputy Mulherin is arranging to meet shortly with the Ministers for Transport and Tourism and the Taoiseach to discuss the strategic significance of Knock Airport for the future development of the west. She is proposing that international consultants be appointed to draw up a set of development proposals for Ireland West Airport “before Knock is disadvantaged by the massive investment which is proposed for Shannon Airport, which includes a debt write-off of €100 million and a merger with Shannon Development and Estates which will provide the airport with a yearly revenue stream”.
“Not only is a write-off required of the capital debt the airport carries there also needs to be significant investment in the airport infrastructure such as construction of hangars and associated facilities and development of the industrial zone with the benefit of special tax designation around the airport,” said Deputy Mulherin.
“The development of such facilities would help make Knock self-financing. The airport and industrial area should receive investment and support and marketing from Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and Tourism Ireland.
“The baton of the founding fathers of Knock Airport needs to be firmly seized,” she added. “We need to have vision and determination to realise its potential for the benefit of the entire region now. Now is the time for action before Knock’s competitiveness is disadvantaged by the massive investment which is proposed for Shannon Airport.
“Now is the time for Government to work out a joint plan with the trustees of Knock Airport for its future sustainable development. This will require it buy in at the highest level in the Departments of Finance, Transport and Enterprise.
“I intend to meet shortly with the Ministers for Transport and Tourism and the Taoiseach to discuss the situation.”