Passenger numbers at Ireland West Airport Knock are due to exceed 750,000 a year for the first time in the airport’s history following yesterday’s announcement by Ryanair of three new routes from the airport, along with increased flights on its Knock-London services.
The airline announced yesterday that it will provide new services linking IWAK with Eindhoven in The Netherlands, Glasgow Prestwick, and Kaunas in Lithuania.
Ryanair will also add an extra 60,000 seats to its Knock-Luton and Knock-Stansted routes, with two extra evening flights every Friday and Sunday, to cater for the increasing demand among the business and commuter market.
The new routes will begin operating in April 2014 and tickets go on sale on Ryanair’s website today (Friday ).
According to Ryanair this expansion of its services will result in 80,000 new passengers travelling through IWAK in 2014, increasing annual traffic through Knock from 670,000 to more than 750,000 and seeing the ariport reach the milestone of having more than three quarters of a million passengers. The boost in passengers numbers also has the potential to support up to 80 new on-site jobs at the airport.
According to Ryanair’s Michael Cawley the new services are in response to the Government’s scrapping of the €3 air travel tax from April 2014, and form part of plans by the airline to deliver one million additional passengers to Irish airports as a result of the abolition of the tax.
“The scrapping of the travel tax will help restore Ireland’s competitiveness and attractiveness to overseas visitors from the UK and Continental Europe in particular,” Mr Cawley said. “Having met with all five of the main Irish airports, and announced new growth for 2014 at Shannon and Knock, we hope to announce further new route and traffic growth plans over the coming weeks.”
Yesterday’s announcement represents a significant milestone for the airport, and the western region, as it provides scheduled direct air access for the first time from the Benelux region, which has a population of more than 28 million people and is a growing tourism market for Ireland. This new service offers significant potential for new tourism business to the region.
“We are delighted to welcome these new services with Ryanair which will provide a major boost for tourism in this region and for the first time connect the airport with key markets in the Benelux region and emerging Baltic States,” Joe Gilmore, managing director Ireland West Airport Knock said at yesterday’s announcement. “We thank Ryanair for their continued confidence and support for the airport and the west and northwest of Ireland, and furthermore we hope these new services will attract the full support of all tourism interests in the region as they will require even greater effort on all our behalfs to ensure they are a success and are maintained for the longer term. We expect further positive route development announcements in the coming weeks.”
Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland, said this week that the new services would provide a welcome boost for tourism from the British and Dutch markets to Mayo and the west of Ireland next year.
“Today’s announcement is wonderful news for tourism to Mayo and the west of Ireland,” he said yesterday. “We already work very closely with Ryanair and we look forward to co-operating with them to maximise the promotion of these new flights from Britain and the Netherlands to Knock. As an island, the importance of convenient, direct, non-stop, flights cannot be overstated — they are absolutely critical to achieving growth in inbound tourism. Tourism Ireland is committed to working with Ryanair, Ireland West Airport Knock, and other tourism interests, through co-operative marketing, to drive demand for these flights to Knock, as we work with other carriers and partners to promote and help maintain vital routes and services to the island.”
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring also welcomed the announcement, which he said was evidence that Budget 2014 was good for tourism and aviation.
“I will work with the team in Tourism Ireland to ensure we do all we can to promote these new services overseas, and to help ensure these routes are a success for the west and northwest regions and bring a much needed boost to the tourist industry in these regions,” Minister Ring said.
“These flights are also a real boost to the Wild Atlantic Way, the west coast tourism route which will be fully up and running next year. Eindhoven Airport in particular is the ideal location for visitors from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and western Germany. This is the first route of its kind from those countries, all of which have a strong affinity with the west of Ireland.”
Starting in April, flights from Knock to Eindhoven will operate every Tuesday and Saturday, with flights to Kaunas every Thursday, and flights to Glasgow will commence in June on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
The Ryanair announcement is the second boost for IWAK this week; four weekly Knock-Birmingham flights, announced by Flybe in September, began operating out of the airport on Sunday.