The first portion of the €7.3 million investment by seven local authorities from the region into Ireland West Airport Knock as part of a proposal spearheaded by Mayo County Council will be paid over to the airport in coming weeks. The initiative, which was first mooted in late 2014, will see county councils in Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, and Galway City Council purchase a 17.5 per cent stake in the airport, which celebrated its 30th birthday this year.
The incoming Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Al McDonnell in his incoming address to the council last Monday, said the future of the airport was his number one priority for his year in the Cathaoirleach's chair. At the same meeting, the chief executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Hynes, told the elected members: "The final piece of paper work to go ahead with the councils investment has just arrived today."
Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser this week, Mr Hynes said: "We had hoped that everything would have been ready to go by the end of quarter two this year, but it looks like we'll be ready to pay over some of the funding by next week."
Outlining the procedure for the investment, Mr Hynes said: "We'll be paying over €3.3 million in the first tranche and then another €2 million in six months time, and another €2 million after that again the whole process should take 18 months." He added: "It's a great mark of the belief that the people have in the airport and the western region and great credit must go to the elected representatives and the officials in the seven local authorities. It's taken a while to get there, but it's great to see this finally coming on stream and happening.
"It's a good time for it to come with the Airport celebrating it's 30th anniversary," he concluded.
In April last year the elected members of Mayo County Council approved the raising of the €7.3 million loan which will be paid back over a 30 year period, with the other six local authorities involved in the deal paying it back to Mayo County Council. It was reveled then that Mayo County Council will end up with a 35 per cent stake in the 17.5 per cent share in the airport being purchased by the seven local authorities.
The airport is also in need of €36 million capital investment over a 10 year period; that figure came out of a study group that was chaired by then TD and now Senator John O'Mahony in late 2013. The plan for the airport is to double passenger numbers over the next 10 years, to increase the airport’s number of routes from 25 to 40, and to establish a chartered service to America. Ireland West Airport recorded a nine per cent increase in passenger numbers in the first quarter of 2016 with more than 123,000 passengers using the airport in the first three months of the year. The airport is on track to record the busiest year in the airports 30 year history with passenger numbers set to soar to close to 750,000 this year.