Fears have been expressed that the proposed report into the future of Ireland West Airport Knock are being long-fingered while development plans for Shannon Airport move ahead.
The Knock report was supposed to have been completed last June so that it would be proposed in tandem with controversial proposals to merge the Shannon Airport Authority with Shannon Development.
The Shannon developments which effectively wiped away that airport’s substantial debts caused much concern at IWAK who felt that the Clare-based airport was being disproportionately favoured at a time when its passenger numbers were falling and IWAK’s were growing.
Now, Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin has called on Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, to say when the report on the plan of action for the future development of Ireland West Airport Knock (IWAK ) will be published.
Addressing Minister Varadkar in the Dáil, Deputy Mulherin said the report, which the Minister had signed up to with the board of directors of IWAK, was supposed to have been ready by last June.
She stressed that she would have expected it to be forthcoming by the time of the Budget, which is just a fortnight away.
Deputy Mulherin expressed concern that the legislation to give legal effect to the Government's plan for the merger of Shannon Airport Authority with Shannon Development designed to secure a sustainable future for Shannon airport will be coming before the Dáil shortly, but that there is still have no plan to secure Knock's future.
She also stressed that the plans relating to both Knock and Shannon should proceed in tandem as Knock will be at a real competitive disadvantage once the new company Shannon Group plc is forged.
"I also sought an assurance from the Minister that the recommendations of the report will be implemented in full.
“IWAK is a transport hub and the gateway to the west and strategic to our future economic and social growth for the region. It has to be supported,” Deputy Mulherin said.
Already, Shannon Airport is holding several information meetings with business leaders around the region informing them of the proposal to create Shannon Group plc, incorporating the extensive property holdings of Shannon Development and the creation of an international aviation services centre (IASC ) at Shannon.
Mary Considine, director at Shannon Airport, addressed members of the Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD ) at the latest of these, held in Galway on Wednesday night.